Why Demolition and Refurbishment Projects Require Asbestos Surveys

Demolition and refurbishment projects necessitate asbestos surveys due to several critical reasons, primarily centred around health and safety regulations. Asbestos, a naturally occurring fibrous material, was extensively used in building materials for its durability, fire resistance and insulating properties.

Inhalation of asbestos fibres can lead to serious respiratory diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, a type of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and other organs. For this reason, demolition and refurbishment projects require asbestos surveys to protect the environment and residents.

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Let us delve into reasons why demolition and refurbishment projects necessitate asbestos surveys:

1. Health and Safety

  • Asbestos-related diseases, such as asbestosis, have a long latency period, often taking decades to manifest symptoms after exposure. Therefore, preventing potential exposure during construction or renovation projects is crucial.
  • The inhalation of asbestos fibres can cause irreversible damage to the lungs and other organs, leading to debilitating illnesses and premature death.
  • Asbestos surveys help identify the presence, location and condition of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs), enabling proper management or removal to mitigate the risk of exposure.

2. Legal Compliance

  • The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 in Britain imposes strict legal obligations on duty holders, including building owners, landlords and employers, to manage asbestos risks in non-domestic premises.
  • Duty holders must conduct asbestos surveys to assess and manage asbestos risks, ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.
  • Failure to comply with asbestos regulations can result in severe penalties, including fines and legal action.

3. Environmental Protection

  • Improper handling and disposal of asbestos-containing materials can lead to environmental contamination, posing risks to ecosystems and public health.
  • Asbestos surveys help identify ACMs, allowing for their safe removal and disposal in accordance with environmental protection regulations.

4. Risk Assessment

  • Asbestos surveys help with a thorough risk assessment, which considers factors such as the type, condition and location of ACMs within the building. This allows for the identification of areas of high risk where asbestos fibres may be readily released into the air.
  • According to the WHO, there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos fibres, underscoring the importance of minimising exposure risk through identification and clearance.

5. Worker Protection

  • According to HSE, asbestos-related diseases are responsible for around 20% of work-related cancer deaths in the UK. This brings our attention to why we should do an asbestos survey before letting workers enter our house.
  • To manage ACMs, workers should be given personal protective equipment such as respirators and disposable coveralls for their protection and safety.
  • If we know from the survey that the house has ACMs, engineers can control or minimise the spread by wetting down asbestos-containing material to reduce airborne infection.

6. Public Safety

  • In addition to workers’ safety, asbestos surveys contribute to public safety by minimising the risk of exposure to nearby residents and pedestrians. This is particularly very important for densely populated urban areas.
  • Public awareness of the hazards of asbestos exposure has increased in recent years, leading to greater demand for asbestos surveys by neighbourhoods to practice public safety and health.
  • If unaware of the presence of asbestos, the neighbours will walk around freely without caring that they may fall prey to a deadly disease.

7. Identification of Asbestos Containing Materials

  • Trained surveyors conduct comprehensive surveys to identify any material containing asbestos within buildings. They use a combination of visual inspections and sampling to determine the presence of asbestos.
  • According to the HSE, around 5000 people die each year in the UK from asbestos-related diseases, highlighting the importance of accurate identification and managing ACMs to prevent exposure.

8. Cost Efficiency

  • Early identification of ACMs through surveys can result in cost savings by preventing costly delays, disruptions and unforeseen expenses during construction or renovation projects.
  • Addressing asbestos-related issues proactively allows the project team to incorporate everything in the budget to minimise the impact on overall project cost.
  • Failure to identify can result in emergency remediation, legal fees and potential compensation claims from affected parties.

9. Peace of Mind

  • Conducting asbestos surveys can provide you with peace of mind, knowing that the house is asbestos-free. In the case of asbestos traces, one can be calm, knowing that proactive steps have been taken to protect workers and the health and safety of workers and the public.
  • These reduce the chances of costly legal disputes and offer a positive work environment.
  • This also enhances the house’s reputation and ensures that it is constructed perfectly well, which can increase the house’s market value.

How are Asbestos Surveys performed?

Asbestos surveys are conducted by trained professionals following specific procedures to identify and assess ACMs in the building. The process includes the following steps:

1. Preparation

Before conducting the survey, the surveyor will gather information about the building’s history and construction material used and review blueprints.

2. Site Inspection

The surveyor will conduct a detailed visual inspection, both internally and externally, to identify potential ACMs. All the areas of the house will be examined and tested.

3. Sampling

The surveyor may also take some samples to confirm asbestos in suspected material for laboratory analysis. Samples are sealed and labelled.

4. Analysis

After sample collection, it will be analysed in the laboratory. Using microscopy techniques, the presence or absence of asbestos will be determined.

5. Assessment

If asbestos is present in the material, then risk will be assessed. Factors include the condition of ACMs, their accessibility, the likelihood of disturbance and the presence of vulnerable humans.

6. Report

A report will be generated, including photographs, sample analysis and risk analysis and sent to the owner.

7. Recommendation

The solution will be recommended to the owner based on findings and regulatory compliance. Periodic follow-up and reviews of the property will be done.

Conclusion

Asbestos surveys are essential in demolition and refurbishment projects to ensure the safety of workers and the public by identifying and managing asbestos-containing material appropriately. The Control of Asbestos Regulation 2012 outlines the UK’s legal requirements for asbestos management. This emphasises the importance of conducting surveys to protect workers and the community.

Get in touch with Asbestos Management Group

Contact the experts and have your asbestos professional managed by dedicated experts. You can reach us for a free quote by calling 07711 096089 or sending an email to sales@amg.org.uk.