AV Asbestos conducts surveys to enable clients to identify asbestos containing materials (ACMs), as well as, in inaccessible locations, those that are presumed to contain ACMs. The surveys are performed in accordance with the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE's) requirements and standards. Accordingly, AV Asbestos offers two types of survey: 'management' and 'refurbishment or demolition'.

Management surveys

Management surveys should be part of the duty-holders' safety monitoring process; the results are used to understand and control, if any, a site's asbestos risks, where required by the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR 2012). The management survey's purpose is to locate — as far as reasonably practicable — the presence and the extent of any asbestos containing materials (ACMs). The survey's report should be available to employees, builders, etc. to indicate any potential risks when maintenance work is being undertaken and where the ACMs may be disturbed during the day-to-day use of a building.

For public spaces, where ACMs may be present, management surveys are required under the CAR 2012.

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In practical terms, a management survey assesses any potential asbestos containing materials (ACMs) and their ability to release airborne fibres. This assessment yields most of the data needed for the mandatary asbestos management plan. ACMs that are unlikely to release airborne fibres do not have to be removed; only recorded in the plan and systematically monitored. When the ACMs need to be refurbished or removed later on, additional care should be taken including the commissioning of an additional refurbishment and demolition survey. (The management plan should take into account the need to undertake routine maintenance work.)

When a surveyor is unsure whether or not some material contains asbestos, he or she will normally sample it for testing. This sample will be sent to a laboratory for analysis to confirm the presence or absence of asbestos. However, a management survey can also rely on the surveyor's experience to determine the presence or absence of ACMs without sampling. For example, a surveyor may recognise a manufactured boiler flue that he or she already knows contains asbestos.

Where it is reasonably practicable, all areas should be inspected including: cellars, false ceilings, lift shafts, service ducts, etc. Where the surveyor cannot access an area without causing damage to the surroundings – instead of immediately conducting a destructive survey – he or she will presume that it contains ACMs, leaving the final assessment to a later survey, if and when the material needs to be disturbed. If the presumed ACMs are in good condition and will not release airborne fibres, their removal is unnecessary, but, as with a confirmed ACM, this must be clearly stated in the report and their presence needs to be included in the site's asbestos management plan. Therefore, any material presumed to contain asbestos must have its condition regularly assessed. In fact, all sampling may be deferred. However, this is not recommended as all the un-sampled suspect materials are presumed to contain asbestos.

This raises an issue, should the presumed ACM in fact not contain asbestos, the duty-holder will have to bear the cost of managing it as if it were an ACM. Obviously, where this is the case, its treatment should be as if it contains asbestos, which is inherently more expensive to deal with.

Asbestos insulating board (AIB), was widely used as a very effective firebreak. We have come across countless incidences where the AIB has been rendered safe by encapsulation (that is over-cladding with plasterboard or other non-asbestos material). After encapsulation it can be left in place, and then just checked for deterioration during the regular review of the management plan, where it been documented.

Therefore, a management survey may be:

  • a combination of testing possible ACMs, and presumptions about materials that are likely to contain asbestos; or
  • a set of ACM presumptions only.

Management surveys are discussed in the HSG264 guidelines, which states:

A management survey is the standard survey. Its purpose is to locate, as far as reasonably practicable, the presence and extent of any suspect ACMs in the building which could be damaged or disturbed during normal occupancy, including foreseeable maintenance and installation, and to assess their condition.

Refurbishment or demolition surveys

Refurbishment and demolition surveys are needed before: any refurbishment, which is not of a routine day-to-day nature; demolition work; or substantial plant removal or dismantling. This type of survey is also applicable where a building's layout is to be changed, for example: the removal of partitions, cubicles, etc.

Unless part of a protracted process, the condition of the asbestos containing material (ACM) is not assessed, as it is normally about to be removed. However, the quantities of these ACMs are gauged. The results may then be used to assist in the calculation of the ACMs removal costs.

In addition to the tendering process for removal of ACMs, the reports derived from these surveys are also useful to architects, quantity surveyors, structural engineers, and contractors involved in the commissioning, design, and building process.

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These surveys detail all of the ACMs in the area affected by the demolition/refurbishment work. Where necessary it will include fully intrusive and destructive inspection of hard-to-access areas, including any areas that were unexamined in previous management surveys.

With certain exceptions, destructive inspections can only be conducted in areas unoccupied by the public or employees to minimise risk; and these areas must be safe before they are re-occupied.

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 requires all ACMs, where practical, to be safely removed before substantial refurbishment or final demolition.

Refurbishment or demolition surveys are discussed in the HSG264 guidelines, which states:

A refurbishment and demolition survey is needed before any refurbishment or demolition work is carried out. This type of survey is used to locate and describe, as far as reasonably practicable, all ACMs in the area where the refurbishment work will take place or in the whole building if demolition is planned. The survey will be fully intrusive and involve destructive inspection, as necessary, to gain access to all areas, including those that may be difficult to reach. A refurbishment and demolition survey may also be required in other circumstances, e.g. when more intrusive maintenance and repair work will be carried out or for plant removal or dismantling.

Emergency sampling

In the event of uncovering suspect material, AV Asbestos are usually able to attend site, and have sampled results back within 36-hours.

AV Asbestos survey reports

Once we have collected all of the required information, we will write a full report of our findings in accordance with the Health and Safety Executive's guidance (HSG264).

The report will include details about AV Asbestos, the client, the survey site, the purpose of the survey, the salient dates, etc.

The report will also include a short Executive Summary. This gives the scope, type and extent of the survey along with a synopsis giving the most important information, including:

  • the locations of any identified or presumed ACMs;
  • any areas specifically not accessed;
  • clear notes on any required actions, and their priority.

When ACMs have been found (or material is presumed to be an ACM) each occurrence will be documented in detail:

  • the location on the site;
  • how much ACM is present in each instant;
  • a description of the object that includes the ACM;
  • whether the ACM is presumed, strongly presumed or confirmed; and
  • the asbestos type contained in the ACM.

For a management surveys (and refurbishment and demolition surveys where the work is not imminent), the following additional information will be provided:

  • accessibility to the ACM;
  • any damage or deterioration;
  • details of any surface treatment;
  • the material assessment score, this indicates the risk that the ACM poses to human health; and
  • any actions required based on the material assessment score.

When samples have been taken during the survey, the report will also give the laboratory results, whether positive or negative.

Highest standards

We work to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) standards. AV Asbestos is a member of Asbestos Control and Abatement Division (ACAD) of the Thermal Insulation Contractors Association (TICA).

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