Any building in the UK that was constructed before the year 2000 may well contain asbestos which means that before any refurbishment or demolition work can be carried out an Asbestos Refurbishment and Demolition Survey will be required. Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work related deaths in the UK and the Health and Safety Executive is determined to prevent more workers being exposed to this dangerous substance. The Refurbishment and Demolitions Survey is aimed at ensuring that people who may be exposed to asbestos during their work know exactly what measures need to be taken in order to protect themselves and others.
The purpose of the Survey is to locate all the asbestos in a building (or part of a building) and there is a legal requirement for the asbestos materials to be removed prior to any upgrades, refurbishment or demolition work. These Surveys must only be conducted in unoccupied areas of a building so that any risk to employees or the public can be avoided.
An Asbestos Survey is intrusive and disruptive by nature as it needs to penetrate all parts of a building’s structure. Inspection consists of lifting carpets and tiles, breaking through walls, partitions, ceilings and cladding and even opening up floors.
Following the Asbestos Survey the report the client (building owner) must pass on the report to any designers or contractors who are bidding for the work so that the asbestos risks can be adequately addressed. This is done by removing the asbestos in a safe and effective manner and the removal work must be carried out by a Health and Safety Executive licensed contractor. Ensuring that the Survey is carried out and that the asbestos is safely removed and disposed of is the responsibility of the responsibility of the ‘dutyholder’ of a building. According to the UK Health and Safety Executive, you are a ‘dutyholder’ if:
- you own the building
- you are responsible through a contract or tenancy agreement
- there is no formal contract or agreement, but you have control of the building
- in a multi-occupied building, you are the owner and have taken responsibility for maintenance and repairs for the whole building.
Those who are unsure as to whether or not they are a ‘dutyholder’ need to seek professional advice on this matter.
Asbestos containing materials (ACMs) may be found in the following places within a building:
- Asbestos insulating board ceiling tiles
- Asbestos cement panels
- Sprayed coatings on walls
- Asbestos insulation on piping
- Textures coatings containing asbestos
- Asbestos insulating board panels
Asbestos has traditionally been used for fire protection purposes, lagging and insulation, textured coatings, ropes and cloth used in gaskets and seals and flat or corrugated sheets containing ACMs.
If you are a ‘dutyholder’ and are responsible for ensuring that the Asbestos Refurbishment and Demolition Survey is carried out, you can find more information on this on the UK Health and Safety Executive website. You’ll find a free download with more advice and information that you can use to ensure that you comply with current legislation on asbestos management.