Asbestos Removal Worker wearing protective clothing, and using a class H vacuum cleaner for the removal of asbestos.

What is an Asbestos Survey?

Landlords have a legal responsibility to minimise their tenant’s risk of exposure to asbestos, whether the property is commercial or residential. Asbestos is a dangerous substance that collects in the lung when breathed in and can result in cancers or other health problems. Asbestos-containing materials were widely in the building and manufacturing trades before 1999, and therefore many buildings still contain this toxic substance.

An asbestos survey assesses the location, quantity, and condition of materials that contain asbestos to evaluate whether remedial action is required. The information gained through the survey will be outlined in the form of an asbestos register where the asbestos-containing materials found, and the location of such materials will be listed.

What types of asbestos surveys are there?

There are four common types of asbestos surveys, which can be undertaken to establish the presence of commercial asbestos or residential asbestos. These include:

· Management surveys are used to establish whether there is asbestos in a particular building and sets out a management plan to maintain the safety of the building if it does contain the substance.

· Pre-refurbishment surveys are more intrusive inspections and will help establish a safe plan to carry out the planned refurbishment.

· Pre-demolition surveys are typically the most in-depth inspections as materials containing asbestos will need to be removed safely.

· Re-inspection surveys are undertaken regularly in order to establish whether the previously detected asbestos-containing materials have deteriorated and become more hazardous.

How is an asbestos survey undertaken?

An experienced surveyor with at least BOHS P402 qualifications will walk through a property and scrutinise each area to detect potential asbestos-containing materials. The asbestos survey will be undertaken in a manner that is fully compliant with the Health and Safety Executive Guidance HSG264 surveying guide. It consists of methodical on-site risk assessment, a meticulous process that closely looks into every part of a building.

If asbestos is suspected, a sample will be collected for analysis to verify the presence of asbestos. As part of the analysis, air testing and water absorption tests can be carried out. Water absorption tests can ascertain the density of a material while air testing assesses the presence of airborne asbestos fibers.

What happens once the asbestos survey is finalised?

A summary of the survey will be available in order to create an efficient management plan. If no asbestos is found on your premises, you do not need to take any further actions. However, if asbestos is found, a management plan needs to be raised in order to keep the building safe. Any immediate actions raised need to be acted upon straight away, and maintenance actions need to be set out in order to comply with the survey results.

Asbestos removal, encapsulation or decontamination may be required, which should be undertaken professionally in order to avoid any potential risks. Asbestos removal contracts must be undertaken under approved codes of practice and in full compliance with the Health and Safety Executive legislation.