Caveat in scrabble letters

Since HSG264 – Asbestos: The Survey Guide was first published in 2010 has anything changed within the industry?

The purpose of this guidance in replacing MDHS100 was to put more of an onus on the ‘Dutyholder’ and the ‘Asbestos Surveying’ company to work together to design and carry out a survey that meets the requirements of the dutyholder and that can be utilised in preparing an ‘Asbestos Register’* and ‘Asbestos Management Plan’.

[* See our article ‘Survey vs Register’ for more thoughts and advice]

The guidance states that it is aimed at surveyors and ‘Those who commission surveys (eg clients/dutyholders). It sets out how to decide what type of survey is appropriate, how to select a competent surveyor, what the client should expect from a surveyor and what the client should provide to the surveyor. It also highlights issues (eg restricted access, excluded areas and other caveats) which not only reduce the effectiveness of the survey, but also have serious implications for managing asbestos.’

However, the market place is still flooded with survey reports that due to the amount of caveats, no access areas or presumptions leave them ineffectual in assisting the dutyholder to manage their asbestos.

So, who is at fault, the dutyholder or the surveying company?

Both….. The dutyholder needs to understand the basic requirements of a survey and what a surveyor will need in order to collate useful information. The dutyholder will understand their properties better than the surveying company.

Dutyholder – The Guidance provides detailed advice on what to consider, but below are some key questions to ask yourself:

Why do you need the survey? – Are you having a refurbishment, or do you require it for general occupation and maintenance?

What access may be required? – The surveyor will need to access all areas of the building,

  • Is access equipment required for high level items?
  • Are any locations locked or difficult to access?
  • Are rooms likely to be occupied by staff/customers?
  • Where do your maintenance contractors work/need access to?

In what format do you want the survey? – What about your Asbestos Register & Management Plan?

  • Is a pdf survey report enough?
  • How will you manage your asbestos once the survey has been issued?
  • How do you update your asbestos register if anything changes?

The asbestos surveying company SHOULD guide you through this process and ask the relevant questions, but be prepared for a survey report full of restrictions and caveats or a return visit to access areas that couldn’t be accessed at the time of the original survey if YOU haven’t played your part in the process.

Surveying Companies – The Guidance is quite clear on the importance of planning and agreeing the scope of works with the dutyholder, however starting off with several standard caveats will not always deliver what is required for the client. It is sometimes difficult to explain or get the client to take the time to answer all the questions.

It is a competitive market, but if you take the time to explain the scope and what is included in a quotation the client may be in a better position to compare your costs with those of other seemingly cheaper companies.

For further information visit:

Domestic Asbestos Surveys

Commercial Asbestos Surveys