What the law requires
Do all buildings need an asbestos survey?
Asbestos building products were not banned outright in the UK until 1999; therefore any building or structure built before 1999 could potentially contain asbestos.
For normal occupation purposes, the law requires that all work-place premises liable to contain asbestos are assessed. The recommendation in this case is to conduct an Asbestos Management Survey (see below). There is an additional requirement in law that prior to commencing invasive works on any pre-1999 building, employers must conduct a more in-depth assessment for asbestos. The recommendation in this case is to conduct an Asbestos Refurbishment or Demolition Survey (see below).
It should be remembered that deaths resulting from exposure to asbestos are currently running at over 4500 per year in the UK and failure to comply with current Asbestos Regulations is a criminal offence, which could lead to substantial fines and or imprisonment.
HSE Regulations & Guidance
In January 2010 the Health and Safety Executive introduced a new asbestos survey guide (HSG264). This publication replaced and expanded on MDHS100 (Surveying, sampling and assessment of asbestos-containing materials); and is aimed at people carrying out asbestos surveys and people with specific responsibilities for managing asbestos under the Control of Asbestos Regulations. Asbestos surveys, previously defined under MDHS100 as Types 1, 2 & 3, have been replaced by the following:
- Management survey
A management survey is the standard survey. Its purpose is to locate, as far as reasonably practicable, the presence and extent of any suspect ACM’s (asbestos-containing materials) in the building which could be damaged or disturbed during normal occupancy, including foreseeable maintenance and installation, and to assess their condition.
- Refurbishment and demolition surveys
A refurbishment and demolition survey is needed before any refurbishment or demolition work is carried out. This type of survey is used to locate and describe, as far as reasonably practicable, all ACM’s in the area where the refurbishment work will take place or in the whole building if demolition is planned. The survey will be fully intrusive and involve destructive inspection, as necessary, to gain access to all areas, including those that may be difficult to reach. A refurbishment and demolition survey may also be required in other circumstances, e.g. when more intrusive maintenance and repair work will be carried out or for plant removal or dismantling.