Large quantities of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were used in the construction of buildings throughout the UK until its ban in 1999. Due to its extensive use between the 50’s to the 80’s there are still a large proportion of buildings in the UK which contain asbestos products. Any property built before 2000 has the potential to contain asbestos products.
Asbestos is classified as a ‘class 1’ carcinogen and is regulated through adherence of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 (CAR 2006). The duties of owners and occupiers of non-domestic premises are covered under regulation 4 of CAR 2006 and the ‘duty holder’ responsibilities are to take reasonable steps to ensure the identification and condition of asbestos containing materials in non-domestic properties and to manage the risks that the asbestos contained in their property has on any occupiers, or anyone who is required to work in an area containing asbestos or is likely to disturb any materials containing asbestos. Regulation 4 of CAR 2006 also applies to domestic properties where areas are shared by multiple occupants such as corridors, lift shafts, boiler houses, foyers etc.
The purpose of an asbestos survey is to assist management of the asbestos contained in the duty holder’s premises. The survey must provide enough information so that an asbestos register and plan can be produced and an adequate risk assessment can be put into place to manage the hazards of the continuing presence of asbestos.
“With the introduction of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR 2012) comes many more responsibilities for trades companies and anyone responsible for building works and maintenance.
It is now a legal requirement that nearly all works with asbestos, and this includes asbestos floor tile removal, asbestos cement removal, textured coating (Artex) removal and many more asbestos containing materials (ACM’s), once thought to be very low risk, now have to be notified to the local enforcing authority or Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
This means that prior to any work a new document (https://extranet.hse.gov.uk/lfserver/external/asbnnlw1 ) has to be completed and sent through before the work commences. You are required to state the nature of your works and who is doing it and the controls you are to implement. On top of this you are legally required to make sure any person carrying out this work has more than simple asbestos awareness and has specific training in the removal of Notifiable Non Licensable Work (NNLW). These records along with and asbestos medical and a complete list of any work carried out on asbestos, the type of asbestos and how it was removed (a full method statement), needs to be retained on file for at least 40 years.
At Insight Safety – all our staff carry this training as standard, we carry appropriate insurances, waste licenses and have systems in place to log all details. If you would like any free advice or a quote for any works you require carrying out then please contact us on the following numbers 0800 121 47 43 (free from most landlines) or 01207 438 313 (free from most mobiles as part of inclusive minutes)”
An Asbestos Survey Aims to:
Locate and record the location, quantity and type of ACMs
Inspect and record the condition and accessibility of presumed ACMs
Determine and record the type of asbestos either by presumption based on its appearance or through testing of presumed ACMs in laboratories.
There are two types of asbestos survey: management surveys and demolition/ refurbishment surveys.
A management type asbestos survey is required during normal occupation of the building to actively manage the continued presence of asbestos containing materials, and the refurbishment or demolition type asbestos survey is needed when any part of the building is to be upgraded, refurbished or demolished. It is wholly possible for multiple surveys to be carried out in the same property during the course of its lifespan.
Management Asbestos Survey
This is a standard asbestos survey which supersedes the original Type 1 and Type 2 asbestos surveys.
Management surveys will involve often only minor intrusive investigation and disturbance. The presence of the asbestos can be made through direct laboratory analysis or by presumption or by a combination of the two.
The presumption that a material contains asbestos is broadly categorized into two types.
Strong presumption: If a material is inspected by a competent surveyor it can be presumed to contain asbestos where laboratory analysis has confirmed asbestos in similar materials, where asbestos has been widely used in a material at the time of its manufacture and installation or where fibres are clearly visible.
Default: When there is insufficient evidence to confirm that a material does not contain asbestos because of no analysis or in a situation where an area is not accessible during the course of an asbestos survey it must be presumed to contain asbestos unless there is sufficiently strong information to the contrary. It may also be decided by the duty holder that it is easier to presume that a particular material is presumed to contain asbestos under the planned management of an area.
The management type asbestos survey will seek to identify the presence of asbestos containing materials and assess their condition to evaluate the capability of the asbestos products to release fibres into the air. This ‘material assessment’ allows the duty holder to prioritize the control of asbestos containing materials based on their ability to emit airborne fibres. It should be noted here that the removal of asbestos containing materials is often more dangerous than the careful controlled management of ACMs which can often be encapsulated, protected or sealed.
The survey will involve inspection of all areas of the property to include subfloor voids, under-floor coverings, above suspended false ceilings, behind risers and soffits. The management survey will cover simple maintenance and routine works but where additional extensive works are likely to be carried out in an area containing ACMs a localized refurbishment survey would be required.
Pre Demolition Asbestos Survey | Refurbishment Asbestos Survey
A refurbishment and pre demolition asbestos survey is needed before extensive works are carried out on a building suspected of containing asbestos; this supersedes the original type 3 asbestos survey.
This type of asbestos survey seeks to determine the presence of asbestos containing materials in areas that are to be refurbished or in whole buildings that are to be demolished. The survey will be destructive as needed to access all areas including areas previously restricted; this may include the lifting of floors, breaking through partitions and ceilings.
CAR 2006 Regulation 7 requires all asbestos containing materials are to be removed where possible before refurbishment or whole demolition; this can include the removal of partition walls ceilings through to larger structural works. This type of asbestos survey will only be carried out in unoccupied areas or in areas that have been vacated for the purpose of the asbestos survey. The reoccupation of these areas should be considered very carefully where an intrusive survey has been undertaken and if needed air sample analysis should be undertaken.
Where housing associations and local authorities have management over large numbers of domestic housing that may require upgrading, refurbishment or demolition it is imperative that an asbestos survey is carried out on a proportional representation of these properties. Asbestos surveys on these types of properties have additional problems in that they are usually occupied and the likelihood of containing asbestos can differ greatly from property to property, yet it is important that an asbestos register is available for any trades people who will be working on any property that has continued presence from asbestos containing materials.
Asbestos Survey Details
In order to carry out a thorough asbestos survey and formulate an effective management plan it is vital that we gain as much preliminary information from you as possible, this may include:
Details of buildings or parts of buildings to be surveyed and survey types.
Details of buildings use, processes, hazards, priority areas.
Plans, documents and surveys on design, structure and construction.
Safety and security information: fire alarm testing, special clothing areas.
Access arrangements and permits.
Contacts for health and safety issues
This information will allow our surveyors to plan the survey efficiently minimizing the risk both to their selves and any occupants within the property.
What to expect from the Asbestos Survey
After the initial information has been gathered and a plan has been agreed with you, one of our trained, experienced surveyors may carry out an initial walkthrough of your premises. At this stage we will be looking for areas of the building that are likely to contain asbestos, at this time our surveyor will be formulating a survey strategy and assessing the site specific risks in your property.
Next, the surveyor will walk from room to room visually checking for asbestos containing materials. We may need to open up risers, lift ceiling tiles, carpets, etc to access as many areas as possible as part of the asbestos survey. All parts of the building should be accessed including the loft, basement rooms and the outside where practically possible. At this stage our surveyor will take photos of suspected materials and sketch the room with indications of the where suspect materials were found. Where achievable, the surveyor may take a sample of suspect materials for later analysis.
Once the asbestos survey is complete our surveyor will submit samples for analysis and when the results are obtained a report will be issued indicating where asbestos was found, what type of asbestos is present and a material risk assessment. This can then be used to formulate a management plan to control the release of fibres into the air.
UKAS or the United Kingdom Accreditation Service is the business and inspection standard in this industry and ensures good quality management processes and technical ability. We have full UKAS accreditation for asbestos inspection in the Great Britain under ISO17020 which is a recognized international standard for this type of inspection.
As the duty holder you will be required to manage the threat of asbestos contained within your building. Our asbestos survey report will highlight areas that contain asbestos and the condition of the asbestos containing materials, allowing you to prioritize any remedial works that may be required to contain the hazards associated with airborne asbestos fibres.
If the asbestos is in good condition or is unlikely to be damaged further or situated in a place where occupiers are unlikely to disturb it then it is usually safer to leave the asbestos containing material in situ.
It is then your responsibility to ensure that anyone who may come into contact with these ACMs is informed to its presence, this can be accomplished by utilizing signs on the offending materials. It will also be your responsibility to ensure that records are kept upto date and that any outside contractors are made aware of areas containing asbestos or presumed asbestos by means of the asbestos register.
Asbestos that is in poor condition will either have to be repaired, by encapsulation or enclosing it or removed completely.
If the asbestos containing materials are to be repaired and remain in situ then these areas must also be highlighted to any persons who may come into contact with them.
Asbestos waste is subject to stringent regulation and should only be removed by a competent person or a registered asbestos removal company.
Asbestos was heavily utilized in the manufacture of building materials largely due to its resistance to fire, heat, electrical, chemical damage and its high tensile strength. Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral and was used extensively in construction. There are three types of fibres:
Chrysotile, also known as white asbestos, is a member of the Serpentine group. Chrysotile fibres are the most in -flexible of all asbestos types. Chrysotile fibres are heat resistant but are and are most suited to being spun and woven, in such applications as heat resistant gloves/fire blankets and fire curtains. Resistance to alkaline attack makes chrysotile a useful reinforcing material in asbestos-cement products. Chrysotile was banned in the UK in 1999.
Chrysotile was the most extensively used of all asbestos types, accounting for roughly 95% of asbestos mined per annum. Like the other forms of asbestos, chrysotile can absorb organic materials such as resins and polymers however it is the most hydrophilic of the 6 asbestos types and was used for anti-condensation linings on pipes and to reinforce particulates such as cement.
Amosite, also known as brown asbestos, is a member of the Amphibole group. Its spiky (almost needle like) fibres have good tensile strength, chemical and heat resistance. In building it is often found in sheets looking similar to plaster board or directly sprayed onto structural steel, used extensively as fire protection. It is often found used in conjunction with other asbestos types.
Between the 1920s and the late 1960s amosite was used in preformed thermal insulation, pipes, slabs and molded pipe fitting covers. In the UK amosite was also used widely in the manufacture of insulation boards.
Crocidolite, also known as blue asbestos, is another member of the Amphibole group. The sharp fibres are the strongest of all asbestos fibres and have a high resistance to corrosives.
Crocidolite was used in thermal lagging until the mid 1960s and in preformed thermal insulation up until the late 50’s. The high bulk volume of crocidolite makes it appropriate for use in sprayed insulation.
Crocidolite is known to be the most hazardous of all the asbestos types.
There are 3 other types of asbestos though these are much less common. These are Anthopholite, Actinolite and Tremolite.
All asbestos materials were still legal in the UK until 1985, from this time various materials, applications and uses were phased out, though not for another 24 years did asbestos become completely illegal in the UK.
Dangers of Asbestos
Breathing in air containing asbestos fibres can lead to asbestos-related diseases, cancers of the lungs and chest lining.
Asbestos is only a risk to health if asbestos fibres are released into the air and breathed in. Past contact with asbestos currently kills approximately 4000 people per year in the UK. This number is predicted to go on increasing at least until approximately 2020, when it is expected that asbestos will be accountable for 12000 deaths per year in the UK alone. There is no cure for asbestos-related diseases.
There is usually a lengthy delay between first contact to asbestos and the onset of disease. This can vary from 15 to 60 years. Only by preventing or minimizing these exposures now will asbestos-related disease ultimately be reduced.
Asbestos in Buildings
Below are some examples of products and locations for asbestos containing materials in buildings:
This is ordinary cement that has been mixed with asbestos; in some cases the asbestos content can be as high as 15%. It was used extensively both internally and externally in buildings, examples of use would include corrugated roofing sheets, downspouts and guttering, asbestos wall cladding and flues. It can be found containing Blue and Brown asbestos as well. It is important to have this material identified as risks can be easily misunderstood due to the possible presence of amphibole asbestos.
Loose fill asbestos
Although this is now rarely found in buildings it may be encountered as loft insulation and fire retardant packing around electrical cables under floors. It is also found in quilts that would be wrapped around boilers. This type of asbestos product is very likely to give off airborne fibres if disturbed.
Composite products containing asbestos would typically include; floor tiles, fuse boxes, heat resistant mats, toilet cisterns, bath panels, textured coatings, kick strips etc. these can be found in many locations in many properties today.
Asbestos Spray Coatings
Asbestos spray coatings can contain very high levels of asbestos. They were used as insulation for the underside of roofs and also as fire retardant on concrete structural members and underfloors.
Asbestos Insulating Board (AIB)
AIB has been used extensively in construction as a fire proof material in the construction of partition walls, fire proof panels, lift shaft lining, ceiling tiles and soffits. It can be the case that the material is now hidden by refurbishment works that have been completed years after its original installation.
Asbestos cloth, lagging
Asbestos lagging is present around heating systems for its superior heat retardant properties, it is usually painted over making it sometimes difficult to identify, it readily releases asbestos fibres into the air and should be treated with extreme precaution.
Asbestos containing textured coatings
Asbestos was used in textured coatings up until the late 1970’s and is present in many products one of the more popular being, artex.