Asbestos Surveys - Legal Requirements

Inhalation of asbestos fibres can lead to cancers such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other severe lung diseases like asbestosis and pleural thickening.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) there are over 5,000 deaths per year currently due to asbestos-related disease.

In fact, there were 2,544 mesothelioma deaths in Great Britain in 2020, a rise of 6% compared with 2019, but similar to the average of 2,523 deaths per year over the previous 8 years.

And there were 530 deaths mentioning asbestosis on the death certificate (excluding deaths that also mention mesothelioma).

Also, the ratio of one asbestos-related lung cancer for every mesothelioma implies there are currently around 2,500 asbestos-related lung cancer deaths each year.

Another research even found that 20% of the 12,000 lung disease deaths each year estimated to be linked to past exposure at work was due to asbestos related cancer and another 20% due to mesothelioma.

It’s important to note it takes a long time-usually decades-for the symptoms of these diseases to start showing after exposure.

And though asbestos has been banned in the UK, buildings, properties, or structures existing before the ban (that is pre-2000) are likely to contain asbestos materials.

That’s why an Asbestos Survey is usually a necessity.

Asbestos survey involves the thorough inspection of a property with the aim of determining the location, amount, and conditions of asbestos containing materials (ACMs) so they can be properly handled or managed.

The survey might involve sampling and lab analysis to ascertain the presence or absence of ACMs

In this article you’ll find out asbestos surveys legal requirements and why it protects businesses and staff.

What Are The Legal Requirements Surrounding Asbestos Surveys?

The major legislation around asbestos surveys is the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR 2012).

It defines when asbestos surveys might be a mandatory legal requirement.

And if you fail to get one, you can be fined up to £20,000, or imprisoned for up to 12 months.

And when there’s a severe breach, you can get an unlimited fine and/or imprisonment of up to 2 years according to

So, when do you need an asbestos survey and when don’t you need one?

When Don’t You Need Asbestos Survey?

There are no legal requirements demanding that domestic building owners conduct an asbestos survey during its normal occupation. Though it might be conducted during real estate transactions as due diligence.

But there’s an exception to this, which you’ll discover as you read on.

When Are Asbestos Surveys Needed?

You’ll need an asbestos survey in any of the following situations:

Building Built Pre-2000

The first condition that dictates whether you should be looking to get an asbestos survey is the age of the building, structure, or property.

Any structure built before 2000 (that is before asbestos ban) is a potential asbestos survey candidate.

Because these buildings most likely contain asbestos since asbestos was popular then because of its affordability, durability, heat-resistance, and electrical-insulation properties.

Asbestos featured in construction materials like asbestos cement, insulating board, cladding, partitions, ceiling panels, floor tiles e.t.c.

But most times it’s tough to tell with precision the locations of these ACMs in the building just by physical inspection. Because some of the ACMs are hidden in other materials.

The only precise way to unmask ACMs is getting an expert to conduct an asbestos survey.

According to HSE, the purpose of the survey is…

After determining the age, the other factors that come into play are discussed below;

Non-Domestic Premises

Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulation (CAR 2012) places a mandate on the duty holder to manage asbestos in non-domestic properties.

The duty holder according to Regulation 4 of CAR 2012 is…

Examples of these non-domestic premises are offices, schools, factories, hospitals, workplaces, warehouses,public buildings.

HSE even extended the definition of non-domestic premises to include tents, vehicles, vessels, aircraft, onshore and offshore installations, and hidden underground structures or pipes that may be disturbed during a refurbishment or demolition work.

The duty holder is mandated to take steps to confirm the presence or absence of asbestos in the premises and their conditions if present.

That means an asbestos survey is needed.

The type of survey usually conducted in this situation is the management survey which is a combination of the old type 1 and type 2 asbestos surveys.

This survey is carried out to produce an asbestos management plan in compliance with CAR 2012.

Professionals like A4 Asbestos will investigate the property and take samples of any potential ACMs and get a lab test done.

The duty holder then receives a document detailing the position and condition of any asbestos found on your property.

When potential risks have been determined, the duty holder then creates a written plan that outlines parts of the premises concerned and measures to be taken to manage the risks.

Common Parts of Domestic Buildings

Remember the exception we told you about?

Though there is a presumption that duty to manage asbestos, requirements of regulation 4 of CAR 2012 do not normally apply to domestic buildings, the requirements thus apply to common parts of the building or public areas such as corridors, foyers, lifts, staircases, boiler houses, yards e.t.c.

So, a management asbestos survey will be conducted in this case.

And you can find more info on page 9 of the HSE survey guide.

Construction Activity

Whether domestic or non-domestic buildings or premises, the duty to manage asbestos regulations prevails when construction activity like demolition, refurbishment, or maintenance is to be carried out.

Because asbestos in itself is harmless unless when spalled, damaged, and disturbed.

Construction activities like maintenance, repairs, and demolition have high potential of disturbing ACMs in the building which could lead to release of tiny asbestos fibres putting the building occupants or workers at risk of diseases like mesothelioma and asbestosis when inhaled.

The kind of survey you need in this case is a demolition and refurbishment asbestos survey.

The demolition and refurbishment survey performs the same role as type 3 asbestos survey. And it’s more intrusive since its goal is to lower risk of exposure during and after the construction activity.

Now that you’ve seen some of the regulations surrounding asbestos surveys…

Why Do Asbestos Surveys Protect Businesses And Staff?

Asbestos surveys help businesses know where asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) are in a premises or building.

This allows proper management and precaution during normal operations and activities that can disturb the ACMs.

If an asbestos survey isn’t done, you’ll be in the dark about the location of ACMs. So you can’t manage and put precautions in place.

This will put staff at risk of inhaling its fibre and eventual development of diseases like lung cancer, asbestosis, mesothelioma e.t.c.

The worst part of it all is, they can carry the asbestos fibres home via their clothes which also puts their family at risk.

Not just that, an asbestos survey protects your business from risk of fines and other penalties.

For example, news broke (which you can find on hulldailymail) in October 2021 of a property firm that allowed unskilled and unprotected workers to break asbestos tiles with claw hammers in Hessle, Hull during a shop conversion.

The property firm was fined £16,000, ordered to pay £3,011.87 in costs and a victim surcharge of £190 for exposing employees to asbestos fibres while removing over 1000metre-square of false ceiling tiles.

Beverley Magistrates’ Court heard that the company had not commissioned a refurbishment asbestos survey prior to the work commencing on the shop conversion at 309 - 315 Hessle Road, Hull.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Trisha Elvy said: “If the company had identified any asbestos on the site through a refurbishment asbestos survey, carried out by a competent surveyor, and had it removed by licenced asbestos removal contractors prior to the refurbishment work commencing, the employees would not have been exposed to asbestos.

So, Where Can You Get An Asbestos Survey?

A4 asbestos are specialists in asbestos survey, testing, and even removal who have been operating in Bristol and Bath over the last few decades.

If you’re concerned about the presence of asbestos in your premises, or you need to arrange for an asbestos survey in Bristol - contact us to get assistance from a team of experts.

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