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What is an asbestos management survey?

Asbestos management surveys are the standard survey required by law under Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations (2012) for any non-domestic premises built pre-2000.

They are intended to protect the safety and wellbeing of any employees, visitors to a business, or tradespersons working within a business premises. The purpose is to locate as far as reasonably practicable the presence and extent of any suspect asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) which could be damaged or disturbed during its day-to-day operational activities.

The management survey for asbestos, in simple terms, is designed to visually locate where asbestos might be so that it can be monitored and – as the name suggests – managed accordingly. As the HSE outlines, an asbestos management survey has three key goals which are to ensure:

  1. Nobody is harmed by the continuing presence of ACM in the premises or equipment;
  2. The ACM remains in good condition
  3. Nobody disturbs it accidentally

During a survey, asbestos-containing materials will be assessed as to their condition, as will the risk they pose. The most reliable surveys will usually involve sampling and analysis, though some service providers will only rely on assumption and visual checks – which is acceptable but can leave doubt in the mind of a duty-holder as to the level of risk.

All ACMs should be identified as far as is reasonably practicable. The areas inspected should include: underfloor coverings, above false ceilings (ceiling voids), lofts, inside risers, service ducts and lift shafts, basements, cellars, underground rooms, undercrofts as per the HSE’s ‘Asbestos: The Survey Guide’ (this list is not exhaustive).

If you are the duty-holder for a non-domestic premises built before 2000, you are responsible for ensuring an asbestos management survey is carried out and reviewed periodically to:

  1. Identify the type, location, extent and condition of asbestos containing-materials (ACMs)
  2. Produce a documented, material risk assessment which identifies the type of asbestos and its condition
  3. Produce a documented priority risk assessment which identifies location and the likelihood of asbestos disturbance
  4. Gain recommendations on how asbestos-containing materials should be managed or removed by the responsible person

How often should an asbestos management survey be completed?

Once a business has a management survey, the only obligation they have is to carry out suitably regular inspections of any known asbestos materials. The frequency for this is generally dependent on the amount, type and condition of any asbestos materials identified.

We would however recommend that re-inspection surveys are carried out at least on an annual basis, but this can also vary to suit the individual premises. For example, a storage depot warehouse with asbestos insulating board lining panels, which has a lot of fork-lift truck activity that may impact these boards, may require more regular inspections than other sites.

Who can carry out an asbestos management survey?

A management asbestos survey can only be carried out by competent suitably qualified surveyors with sufficient knowledge and experience. Following the survey ongoing inspections of known materials may be carried out by a nominated person from your own staff if they have the time and confidence to do so, however this should really only be the case for very simple sites or those with only a few low-risk materials and only if that person is suitably trained.

For the full outline of what an asbestos management survey entails, you can refer to paragraphs 43-50 in the HSE’s ‘Asbestos: The Survey Guide’. At Sweco, we believe that any survey restrictions or caveats should be avoided if possible unless absolutely necessary. Our team always aims to exceed the minimum standards/expectations of a management survey and cover all areas possible.

 

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