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Alex French Associates Services

ASBESTOS SURVEYS

What is asbestos?
Asbestos would be a great building product were it not for the signficant health risks. It has a high resistance to heat and many chemicals and was the building material of choice in the 1960s to the mid '70s in the UK - before the potentially deadly properties of asbestos were known.

During this time asbestos was used for a number of jobs such as; floor tiles, pipe lagging, textured paints (Artex), internal partitions, central heating systems, roofs, gutters, rainwater downpipes, cement cladding, fire protection to structural steelwork, fuse boxes, bitumen products and many, many more.

Why is asbestos dangerous?
When asbestos is in good condition, it poses no significant health risks. The danger arises when asbestos is damaged - through bumps and scrapes sustained by any building over the years - or destroyed by cutting, drilling or ripping.

When disturbed, airborne fibres are released, which can kill. Individuals working in the building and maintenance trades e.g. builders, plumbers, electricians, cable installers are at greatest risk from asbestos. These people are most likely to work on a building without sufficient knowledge as to where asbestos might be and how to avoid it.

Why do I need an asbestos survey?
To protect any person, especially workmen, from accidentally exposing themselves and others to asbestos fibres.

There are many documented instances of builders, plumbers and electricians drilling through innocuous panels, or cutting into pipe insulation, only to discover later that a potentially lethal mistake has been made.

What if I don't bother having a survey carried out?
If you are the duty holder for a commercial property you are liable to prosecution. Failure to comply with the new asbestos regulations may also mean that a prohibition notice is placed on your buildings - effectively closing you down until your workplace is confirmed safe.

Can I survey the building for asbestos myself?
Yes - but only if you are suitably qualified to do so. The regulations state that the asbestos survey must be carried out by a competent person. At AFA we have the necessary experience and qualifications to carry out asbestos surveys safely and competently.

How much will an asbestos survey cost?
That depends on the size and age of your building and the type of survey you require. AFA will be happy to provide you with advice or a free quote. Will I be able to understand the asbestos report? Yes and if there's anything in the asbestos report that you're not sure about just ask and we'll be happy to explain it to you.

THERE ARE THREE DIFFERENT TYPES OF ASBESTOS SURVEY:
Type One: Location and assessment survey (presumptive survey) The purpose of a Type 1 survey is to locate, as far as reasonably practical, any suspected Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) in the building and assess the risk. All areas must be accessed and inspected (including; above false ceilings and inside risers, service ducts, lift shafts etc.) or they will be presumed to contain asbestos.

Type Two: Standard sampling, identification and assessment survey (sampling survey) The purpose and procedures used in this survey are the same as the Type 1 survey. With the Type 2 survey, however, representative samples are collected and analysed for the presence of asbestos. Samples from each suspected ACM are collected and analysed to confirm or negate the surveyor's judgement. Sampling may take place with the survey or, in the case of some larger surveys, as a separate exercise following completion of a Type 1 survey.

Type Three: Full access sampling and identification survey(Pre-demolition / Major Refurbishment Surveys.) A Type 3 survey is used to locate and describe, as far as reasonably practical, all ACMs in the building and involving, if necessary, invasive inspection to gain access to all areas, however difficult to reach.

During this survey, potential ACMs will be identified and an estimate made of their volume and surface area. This survey is designed to be used as a basis for tendering the removal of ACMs from the building prior to demolition or major refurbishment. A Type 3 survey does not assess the condition of the asbestos other than to note areas of damage or where additional asbestos debris could possibly be found.

The type of survey you need will depend on your individual circumstances and at AFA we can advise you on the type of survey most appropriate to your needs.

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