Testing of materials that could potentially contain asbestos must be undertaken before any work is carried out that could lead to asbestos fibres being released. Contractors working on buildings built before 2000 will likely encounter some form of asbestos. Any contractual work, such as renovation, refurbishment or demolition, will require a full survey and samples tested at a UKAS-approved laboratory complying with ISO 17025. If asbestos testing is not carried out, contractors must assume asbestos is present and apply full asbestos precautions.

Asbestos testing should also be carried out as part of an Asbestos Management Survey if there is potential contamination, or if suspected Asbestos Containing Material has been identified.

Asbestos Consulting And Testing

HSE Guidance 264 outlines the different survey types that must be carried out before any work can commence. Regulation 5 of CAR 2012 stipulates that employers must identify the presence and type of asbestos before any work that could expose contractors to asbestos commences. If a reliable survey is not already in place, a new survey must be carried out. Over and above a Management survey, there are different survey types depending on the work to be carried out.

1) Management Survey – Under normal use or occupation of a building with no plans to renovate or refurbish, a management survey is required. This survey aims to ensure no harm comes to staff from exposure to asbestos. The survey will include sampling materials and ensuring any Asbestos Containing Materials are kept in good condition and accidental disturbance is avoided.

2) Refurbishment Survey – This is required before any upgrading works can be carried out. It involves a detailed inspection and sampling of materials, including those that might not contain asbestos. Any areas not accessible will be presumed to contain asbestos. A detailed drawing plan must be produced identifying the location and condition of any ACMs. This survey would require asbestos to be disturbed to obtain samples and the area must be vacated and certified safe before staff can return.

3) Demolition Survey – Similar to a refurbishment survey, this survey is highly detailed and requires the identification of all asbestos and the testing of all building materials. Access to all areas must be authorised.

Pre-Survey Planning

Before a survey can take place, essential planning must be completed. This involves an initial desk-top review that includes pre-survey information on all areas. An effective pre-survey plan means that any specialist equipment needed to access difficult to reach areas can be sourced beforehand and unnecessary survey presumptions can be avoided.

A detailed report is then produced, reviewed and signed by both an authorised consultant, the Lead Asbestos Surveyor, and this report forms the basis of annual re-inspections. An accurate survey is vital to avoid any risk to the health and safety of employees and contractors.

Who Can Test For Asbestos?

Testing must be undertaken by a competent person with the necessary skills, training and experience. Under no circumstances should an untrained person handle asbestos – you might put yourself at risk of inhaling asbestos fibres. Samples must then be tested at a UKAS approved laboratory in compliance with ISO 17025. The laboratory will issue a Bulk Sample Analysis Certificate that confirms if asbestos is present.

What Happens If An Asbestos Sample Is Positive?

The next steps if asbestos is present will depend on the condition of the asbestos. This can include encapsulation to avoid accidental disturbance, general management, or removal. Your Asbestos Surveyor will give advice and recommend the steps you should take, including plans for annual re-inspection. For more information, visit the OMC website.

Find Out More

At OMC, we help businesses assess, mitigate, and remove the risk of asbestos in a range of circumstances, including building and demolition projects, and ongoing asbestos risk management for commercial premises. To book a survey or to speak with one of our asbestos specialists, please give us a call today.

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