October 1, 2020

Two prosecutions by the HSE highlight what asbestos refurbishment and asbestos demolition surveys do and why they are needed.

A deep dive into Asbestos Surveys
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The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012

To comply with the ‘Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012’, you must make sure that the correct asbestos survey is carried out to identify and manage the risk of any ACMs that are present within a building. Therefore, if you own or manage buildings build pre 2000, you need an asbestos survey. Following the survey an asbestos register is to be created, a suitable risk assessment to be carried out and a written plan to manage the risks identified by the materials present.

Intrusive asbestos surveys

Asbestos Refurbishment Surveys or Asbestos Demolition Surveys are required where the premises, or part of it, need upgrading, refurbishment, or demolition.

A Refurbishment / Demolition Survey aims to ensure that:

  • Nobody will be harmed by work on Asbestos containing materials in the premises or equipment
  • Such work will be done by the right contractor in the right way

The asbestos refurbishment and demolition surveys are fully intrusive, it involves destructive inspection to the fabric of the building to locate and identify all ACM’s before any structural work begins at a stated location or on stated equipment at the premises.

Case 1

Newnham College Cambridge was fined for failings that exposed employees and subcontractors to asbestos during refurbishment of a flat owned by the college.

Failings identified that employees and subcontractors were exposed to asbestos during refurbishment of a flat owned by the college.

Failings identified were.

  • No asbestos refurbishment survey was carried out prior to insulation debris being found
  • One employee did not have asbestos awareness training
  • One employee who contaminated his gloves and clothing with loose asbestos debris, spread asbestos from his clothing outside the flat

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that there was inadequate planning and management of the refurbishment work.

On January 15, the College pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 5 and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,450.28.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Sandra Dias said: “Asbestos surveys need to be carried out prior to refurbishment works which disturbs the fabric of a building. Asbestos is still present in hidden locations in buildings and needs to be located before work starts that could potentially expose individuals.”

Case 2

Labform Ltd, a specialist laboratory design and installation company, was fined following the exposure to asbestos of workers, pupils, and teachers.

Failings identified were.

  • Subcontractors disturbed asbestos as they were removing a wall and channelling the floor.
  • Asbestos exposure to asbestos of workers, pupils, and teachers occurred
  • No asbestos survey either refurbishment or demolition asbestos survey was undertaken.

The company was fined £22,400 plus £11,700 costs for four breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

A HSE inspector commented “exposure to asbestos was a serious and well-known health risk, so it was essential that duty-holders took suitable and sufficient measures to prevent the disturbance, spread and exposure to asbestos.

Failing to take action to identify asbestos while planning work, and to ensure that any contractors who may disturb asbestos are aware of the location and type of asbestos present, and not taking appropriate measures to protect the health of others, is totally inexcusable”.

The two recent cases show satisfactory asbestos refurbishment and asbestos demolition surveys are not being undertaken.

Asbestos refurbishment and demolition surveys provide accurate information on the location, amount, and condition of asbestos-containing materials within a property and are a legal requirement prior to starting refurbishment or demolition works.

If you or someone you know are planning on undertaking a refurbishment or demolition project get them to contact Summit Environmental.

Summit Environmental – your partner in asbestos compliance.

info@summitenvironmental.co.uk – 0203 874 9530

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