As the owner of a building, whether residential or commercial, you have a legal duty to manage any materials that contain asbestos. Any property that was built in the UK prior to 2000 is likely to have some asbestos related materials present, somewhere within the build. Problems arise where refurbishment projects are taking place, or destruction of property. When asbestos is disturbed, its fibres are potentially dangerous to any person who comes into contact with it.
Those persons, who have worked within industries where asbestos was present for many years or decades, are likely to suffer from asbestos related cancers and illnesses, such as mesothelioma, later on in life.
How Do I Know if My Building Contains Asbestos?
Asbestos was banned completely within construction in the UK in 1999 so, as stated above, there is a likelihood that any building constructed before that will have some asbestos containing materials present. It was a common material used in houses built in the 1960s and 1970s.
The duty holder is required by The Control of Asbestos regulations to identify the location and condition or asbestos and asbestos containing materials in an accurate manner. This will form the basis of an asbestos management plan.
The only way to know for sure if asbestos is present in your building is to undertake an asbestos survey. The purpose of an asbestos survey is to help a responsible person manage asbestos materials within their premises. It will provide you with accurate information regarding the location of asbestos within your building, including its condition and the amount found in each place. The survey will then provide you with professional guidance as what to do with the asbestos, whether to remove it, or leave it where it is.
What Happens after an Asbestos Survey?
Once a survey and results have been announced, you can put together an asbestos plan for the building in question. You, as the duty holder, have a responsibility to minimise the risks of asbestos related materials on site and to ensure the safety of any occupants of the building.
The type of asbestos survey that is undertaken will depend on your intentions for the property. They can vary in size and scope quite drastically. Should you wish to just find out whether asbestos is present in your building, the asbestos survey will have a very different size and scope than a survey designed to assist plans for refurbishment of a room within a building, or indeed a much larger project that involves the demolition of an entire building where asbestos might be present.
It is worth mentioning that even if a basic asbestos survey does not find any asbestos containing materials present, that does not mean that the building is completely asbestos-free. It could be that they are concealed well within the building. An asbestos refurbishment survey will ensure that you are fully aware of any asbestos hidden within the walls of the building, informing you of how the fabric and fittings will be affected by future refurbishment work. If you have any doubts at all about the type of asbestos survey that is required at the building you are responsible for, speak to a professional, licensed asbestos survey company.