asbestos signIt is vital that property owners and managers of commercial, industrial, retail, NHS and school properties take the risks from asbestos seriously and deal with asbestos in a controlled and safe manner. Even today, asbestos it is the biggest cause of work related deaths in the UK, with currently approx. 5,000 asbestos related cancer deaths per year.

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR 2012) place a legal duty on property owners and managers (the duty holder) to manage asbestos in non-domestic properties, and common parts of domestic premises by:

  • Finding out if there is asbestos in the premises, the amount and what condition it is in.
  • Presuming the materials contain asbestos, unless there is strong evidence that they do not.
  • Making and keeping an up to date record of the location and condition of the Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) or presumed ACM’s in premises.
  • Assessing the risk from the material
  • Preparing a plan that sets out in detail how to manage the risk from this material.
  • Taking the steps needed to put this plan into action.
  • Reviewing and monitoring the plan and the arrangements made to put it in place and
  • Providing information on the location and condition of the material to anyone who is liable to work on it or disturb it.

Owners and managers of properties constructed prior to the year 2000 need to manage the risks from asbestos, as they are responsible for ensuring that employees and non-employees are not exposed to health and safety risks as a result of the presence of asbestos.

Location of Asbestos

With regard to people’s health and safety the overarching piece of legislation is the Health and Safety at Work act 1974. Under section 2 and 3, it places the duty on every employer to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety and welfare at work for all employees and non-employees who may be affected by the employer’s activities.

Specifically relating to asbestos management is the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, with regulation 4 covering the duty to manage asbestos in Non-Domestic (includes the common parts of domestic premises) properties. This regulation requires the duty holder to identify the location and condition of asbestos materials. To meet this the duty holder can assume asbestos is present and manage the premises accordingly, or arrange for a thorough inspection in the form of an asbestos survey.

Types of Asbestos Survey

There are three types of asbestos surveys, however before deciding on the type of survey, the client needs to be aware that the survey must provide sufficient information for an asbestos register to be prepared.

The standard asbestos survey, whether for a commercial building or a school is called an Asbestos Management Survey. This survey is carried out to locate as far as reasonably practicable, the presence and extent of any suspected asbestos containing materials in the building which could be damaged or disturbed during normal occupancy, including foreseeable maintenance and installation.

Also, during the survey the condition of ACM’s should be assessed taking account of the type of ACM (e.g. asbestos insulation boards - AIB), the amount and its condition. The assessment should consider factors such as; is the surface of the material damaged, is the surface sealed breaking off, and protective covering damaged. This information will determine its potential to release asbestos fibres into the air.

The second and third type of survey is call a Refurbishment Asbestos Survey and Demolition Asbestos Survey. These types of surveys are needed before any refurbishment or demolition work is carried out. A refurbishment and demolition survey is used to locate and describe, as far as is reasonably practicable, all ACMs in the area where the refurbishment work will take place or in the whole building if demolition is planned.

Both surveys 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.

Who should undertake the survey?

So many companies claim to be experts in their particular field, but do they hold the relevant accreditations and technical competence to provide you with an accurate and trusted service?

When it comes to looking for an asbestos surveying company you can sometimes be tempted with low costs but have you checked their skills and competence to ensure they can deliver exactly what you need?

Appointing a non UKAS accredited company can throw up lots of risks that can have a devastating effect on your projects. Examples of these risks are:

  • Unclear reports and inappropriate recommendations
  • Insufficient insurances
  • Incomplete surveys leading to missed asbestos
  • lack of quality assured complaints procedures, with no recourse for sub-standard work.

By selecting a UKAS accredited company you are ensuring that the surveys will be carried out independently and impartially. All companies that have been through the assessment of the UKAS accreditation have been checked for appropriate insurance, training, processes and qualifications. The accreditation process is ongoing to ensure that organisations are performing to a required standard. As the HSE strongly recommends the use of an accredited surveyor, UKAS have already done all the hard work by doing the necessary checks. You can go to a UKAS Company and rest assured that a technically competent and professional job will be carried out that meets all your requirements.

So before you proceed with a non UKAS company with a seemingly cheap quote, consider the risks!

Asbestos Register

All this information should be recorded and is referred to as an asbestos register, with accurate drawings and dated, as periodic reviews should be carried out, so an up to date record is available on the location and conditions of all ACMS.

Management Plan

The duty holder should now produce a management plan setting out how the risks identified from asbestos will be managed.

This plan should include details such as:

  1. The persons responsible for managing the asbestos risk
  2. A copy of the asbestos register (how to access it if kept electronically)
  3. Instructions that no work should be carried out in the building without the asbestos register being checked
  4. A schedule for monitoring the condition of ACMS’s
  5. If ACMs are damaged how is the situation to be managed.

The duty holder should ensure that the plan is implemented so the risks are properly managed.


Communication is vital, as all staff and workers, whether the maintenance team at a hospital or a building contractor at a school, need to know where ACMS are located. Therefore, the duty holder, via the management plan, should ensure that the asbestos register is shared with any worker/contractor carrying out maintenance or other work on/in the premises. For example, trades such as plumber and electricians will therefore know where ACM’s are and will know not to work on it or disturb it. “Inform anyone liable to disturb ACM’s”.

To aid communication to all possible workers, the regulation does state that the asbestos register (including drawings) should be available on-site for the entire life of the premises.

The risks from asbestos must be taken seriously, as it is a class 1 carcinogen and is the greatest cause of work related deaths in the UK. Therefore, occupants of and trades working on, a premise need to know where asbestos containing materials are so that they do not disturb and release fibres.

Original source: ARCA News Autumn 2018, issue 102

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