February 26, 2022

Why do I need an asbestos survey when buying a commercial property?

Asbestos surveys are required if you are occupying, buying, selling, or demolishing such a building.
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What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a heat-resistant, chemical resistant, strength binding naturally fibrous mineral that was commonly added to manufacture building materials. It was found to be a durable material with fire and heat resistant properties. That is why it works so well as a fire proofing & insulating material.

Any building constructed between the 1800’s and 1999 will likely have asbestos-containing materials within the property. However, during the 1970’s & 1980s, health experts determined that asbestos was responsible for negatively impact the health of anyone who is exposed to it.

The greatest exposure to asbestos occurs when asbestos-containing materials are damaged because this action releases fibres into the air which can be readily inhaled and cause severe health consequences. Some of the most significant health consequences include lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

What is an Asbestos Survey?

Asbestos Surveys

Any man-made structure, commercial building, residential building, or house constructed prior to 1999 can pose a risk of asbestos to the occupants or workers that reside within them. UK Regulations require you to conduct asbestos surveys on buildings constructed prior to 1999. Asbestos surveys are required if you are occupying, buying, selling, or demolishing such a building. If there are tenants or people living inside the building, then asbestos surveys are also performed as a health and safety check.

The job of an asbestos surveyor is to inspect your building and identify potential asbestos-containing materials. The asbestos fibres themselves cannot always be identified directly because they are microscopic, however an asbestos surveyor is familiar with the types of building materials that might have asbestos in them, such as roofing materials, Wall panels, insulating materials and flooring materials.

Once the surveyor has located an asbestos containing material a small sample will be taken of each suspect material which will then be analysed at the laboratory for further in-depth analysis. The laboratory will identify the type or types of asbestos present with sample(s) a bulk certificate of analysis is produced detailing the laboratory results.

Asbestos survey types

We undertake four different types of asbestos survey in Kent, Sussex, Surrey London and nationally.

  • Asbestos Management Surveys (Previously known as a Type 2 survey) A Management Survey aims to ensure that: Nobody is harmed by the continuing presence of ACM in the premises or equipment; That the ACM remain in good condition; and That nobody disturbs it accidentally. More details below.
  • Asbestos Refurbishment Surveys (Previously known as a Type 3 survey) The asbestos refurbishment survey is required where the premises, or part of it, need upgrading, refurbishment or there are planned intrusive works. More details below.
  • Asbestos Demolition Surveys (Previously known as a Type 3 survey) The refurbishment / demolition survey is required where the premises, or part of it is due to be demolished. These surveys are fully intrusive to the fabric of the building. More details below.
  • Asbestos Re-inspection Surveys also known as an annual asbestos inspection. The re-inspection allows the duty holder to monitor and record the condition of any previously identified asbestos products within a building. Asbestos-containing materials are subject to potential damage and degradation, hence why annual inspections are recommended to ensure they remain in a safe state. More details below.

Asbestos Management Surveys

What are asbestos management surveys?

Asbestos Management Survey
Is an asbestos survey required and if so, what type of survey?

Management asbestos surveys are standard inspection surveys to comply with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 for all commercial and industrial property and for those buying or selling property. This type of inspection is non-intrusive but does include sampling of suspect materials which are then sent to the laboratory to report on whether asbestos is present and if so, what types of asbestos.

If you are a business whether leaseholder or freeholder this survey will identify what asbestos containing materials are in place within your demise, their condition and what your legal obligations are to comply with the regulations. If you have been asked to carry out an asbestos survey for management purposes and provide an asbestos register for insurance or compliance purposes, including visits from either HSE or Environmental Health this is the survey type which includes the information set out in Regulation 4 “Duty to Manage” All commercial & industrial property ( some residential properties are also covered) built prior to the year 2000 are included in the regulation, regardless of size.

Asbestos Refurbishment and Demolition Surveys

Asbestos refurbishment survey
Floor investigation in asbestos refurbishment survey

What is an R and D Survey?

The aim of this survey type is to survey the property in question for asbestos containing materials so as these can be managed safely or as is usually the case removed safely in line with the regulations before the strip-out and re-fit. All property types are covered regardless of size or class of use – residential, commercial, industrial, or mixed.

Asbestos refurbishment surveys and asbestos demotion surveys must be undertaken on properties which are due to be refurbished or demolished.

Professionals, occupiers, and management agents involved in minor and major fit-outs and strip-out will need to commission such a survey prior to beginning the works. As well as the requirements for this type of survey covered under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and HSG264, further stipulations and requirements are contained in the CDM Regulations 2015.

Refurbishment and Demolition (R and D Survey) asbestos surveys are highly intrusive, and damage will occur to elements of the property to inspect the fabric of the building, as such this type of survey can only usually be undertaken in a vacant property and one which is owned by the person or company commissioning the survey.

Asbestos Re-inspection Surveys

What is an asbestos re-inspection survey?

An asbestos re-inspection survey (also referred to as an annual asbestos re-inspection survey) is designed to allow the duty holder to monitor and record the condition of any previously identified asbestos products within a building.

Like any building material, asbestos-containing materials are also subject to potential damage and degradation. As an asbestos product degrades it can be more likely to become a hazard to health, therefore should be inspected at regular intervals to ensure its condition has not deteriorated.

Asbestos in Commercial Premises?

Asbestos Management
Asbestos management in commercial premises.

If you are the owner of a commercial property, or you are in the process of buying a commercial property, you may be the person legally responsible for managing any asbestos present at the property. Therefore, should you be considering selling a commercial property at some point in the future, you should have an asbestos survey conducted.

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 clearly sets out these responsibilities for any property that is non-domestic. Exposure to asbestos can be fatal, causing serious illnesses that can take decades to manifest and produce symptoms. Since asbestos was banned in construction in the UK in 1999 there is no need for concern in any commercial building constructed after this date.

It is important that you understand the location and potential danger of ACMs (Asbestos Containing Materials) if you own a commercial property, you are a tenant or manager of a building with responsibilities that include managing asbestos.

If you are planning to sell a commercial property, a recent asbestos survey and/or asbestos removal project completion pack, is more likely to highlight previous good asbestos management processes and strategy.

So why would you got get an asbestos survey prior to buying a commercial premises?  Those in control of buildings and

Asbestos insulation encapsulated and labelled and inspected annually.

planned works have a responsibility to manage the risks from asbestos in non-domestic premises. To achieve this the duty holder must ensure that a suitable and sufficient assessment is carried out as to whether asbestos is or is liable to be present in the premises. You can and will get prosecuted if you do not undertake a sufficient assessment to assess for asbestos or do not protect employees and visitors to a building from the risks of asbestos.

Your duty under the law is laid out in Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. You must protect anyone from exposure to the asbestos in your property. This would include completing all the following:

  • Find out if there is asbestos in the building, where it is, how much there is and its condition (undertake a survey)
  • Make a presumption that there may be asbestos in some materials if you are not sure (presume present until proved by a survey)
  • Keep up to date records on the state of the materials that contain asbestos or those that you presume contain asbestos (keep and maintain an asbestos register)
  • Complete a risk assessment on how likely it is that anyone could be exposed to asbestos fibres and prepare a plan about how you will manage the identified risks (implement an asbestos management plan, include how you are going to manage the risks)
  • Put the plan into action (this may include training, implementing who is responsible and working on a plan for remediation if required)
  • Review the plan and amend it if necessary (annual re-inspections, review the asbestos management plan and ensure the plan is working.
  • Talk to anyone who may need to work on the materials or agitate them and provide them with all the details they need to be safe (this includes communications with staff, contractors and building users)

If you need an asbestos management survey or asbestos refurbishment survey in Sussex, Surrey, Kent, and London, please contact us, we will be happy to discuss your requirements. Our asbestos survey reports contain material assessments, risk ratings for materials with recommendations on materials found including photographs and highlighted floor plans. This information can then be used by those involved in the refurbishment and or demolition works.

Do you need more information on an annual re-inspection or an need an asbestos management plan to comply with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012?? Contact us on info@summitenvironmental.co.uk

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