All non-domestic buildings and their surroundings must be surveyed to find any asbestos containing materials (ACMs) and where they are found, a management plan put in place.
This regulation, in simple terms, says that, by May of 2004:
- The Duty Holder must survey all non-domestic buildings
- To find all the reasonably accessible asbestos containing materials (ACMs)
- Record their condition
- Write a management plan based on the risks associated with the ACMs
- Advise all involved of the management plan.
The Duty Holder organising the survey is the entity responsible for the building. Sometimes with multiple tenancies and vague contracts it can be difficult to agree who this is. So the regulations say that where the Duty Holder is not clear, all parties must work together to ensure that the building is surveyed and a management plan written.
There will also be situations where domestic properties need to be surveyed to assess the risk from any ACMs. For example, before any construction work on the fabric of a domestic building is carried out, a contractor has a responsibility to carry out a risk assessment before he starts work, and asbestos release is one of the risks he must assess.
The contractor must determine whether ACMs are present; if they are present, the contractor must then assess their own competence in working with asbestos, and subsequently contact an alternative contractor if necessary.
Non-domestic building definition
Obviously a domestic house is not covered by this regulation, but some parts of a block of flats are non-domestic and so are covered – these include:
- common areas*, typically, foyers, corridors, lifts and lift shafts, staircases, boiler houses, vertical risers, roofs, gardens, yards and outhouses.
*Common areas are not shared rooms such as kitchens or communal dining rooms and lounges in shared housing or sheltered accommodation and so those are not covered by the regulations.
The survey also includes fixed plant and machinery, but not those such as trucks that only come onto the premises from time to time. It should be noted that many old machines can contain asbestos in gaskets, brakes, clutches, under spray, etc.and this must be checked.
It is important that a competent surveyor is used, to ensure that all accessible ACMs are found and that the surveyor has adequate knowledge of the health risks of the different ACMs to be able to write a comprehensive management plan.
Finding a Competent Asbestos Surveyor
The HSE has provided a Code of Practice for the selection of a surveyor and on how the surveyor should carry out their survey and write their report. This is a good starting point, but it can be described as quite bureaucratic with the criteria for how a surveyor can prove their competence relying too much on formal qualifications and checklists.
The AIC has provided its own summary below:
- A good place to start is by asking a local building surveyor practice if they have a competent asbestos surveyor in their practice, and if not whether they can recommend a surveyor they are aware of.
- Ask local companies who have carried out the survey on their buildings and how competent their surveyor was.
- Ask for references and take them up.
- It is not recommended to hire a contractor to carry out a survey alone – the contractor should only check for asbestos before they start work.
- Be wary of the cost for the work suggested from the survey; if it appears too cheap, then it probably is.
- UKAS accredited surveyors will be competent, but non accreditation does not mean that they are not competent.
Types of Asbestos Surveys
There are three types of asbestos survey:
- Type 1 asbestos survey: buildings surveyed without sampling or checking in inaccessible places. Where materials are seen which might contain asbestos they are noted and have to be treated as if they contain asbestos until analysis has proved otherwise. Inaccessible places must also be treated as if they contain asbestos, until inspection and analysis proves otherwise. The HSE no longer recommends that this type of survey is carried out.
- Type 2 asbestos survey: buildings surveyed and possible ACMs analysed by a UKAS accredited laboratory, and where possible inaccessible places inspected and if necessary sampled. There will be situations where, following an examination into the age of the material and a visual inspection from the surveyor, analysis such as this may not be required.
- Type 3 asbestos survey: a full survey normally carried out prior to a building’s demolition. This type of survey is similar to type 2, however all areas must be inspected if there is a risk of asbestos content. This could mean inspection in cavity walls, below floors or above ceilings if the surveyor believes that there is a risk of asbestos being present.
Asbestos Management Plan
The Asbestos surveyor will create a management plan, which will provide the details of how the ACMs should be managed.
- If any ACMs are found that are releasing fibres or likely to do so in the near future, the plan will advise whether the ACM should be repaired or replaced. In both cases, the plan will also state if the work can be carried out by a competent contractor or whether a licensed asbestos contractor is required.
- In many cases, if the ACM is in good condition and is not being abraded or likely to be abraded or disturbed in the near future, the plan will state that it should be left in situ, but have its condition checked on a regular basis. How regularly the ACM should be checked will depend on the product – i.e. its age, position, how easy it is for the building’s users to access, etc.
- In other cases, the plan will recommend encapsulation, either by painting with a proprietary sealer or by boarding in, and again state how regularly the encapsulation should be checked.
The Asbestos Management plan must be available to anyone who needs to know. This could include residents, workers, contractors, tenants, etc.
- The management plan must be kept up to date as changes are made to the building and its surrounds.
- If any building work is carried out on the premises after the management plan has been written, then the plan must be reviewed and any changes required made.