You can’t deny that Asbestos surveys are a fundamental part of complying with the Asbestos Regulations, but Regulation 4 is the ‘Duty to Manage’ not the ‘Duty to Survey’.
We will run through a few scenarios that we have experienced over the years.
Targeted Surveys – Targeted surveys are useful when you are looking to add to your existing ‘Management Survey’ data. These are utilised prior to any small refurbishment works. However, you need to ensure that you have good base data and that the proposed refurbishment survey is going to add useful information to the overall ‘Asbestos Register’.
We have seen instances where a client has instructed various targeted surveys to various locations of the building, in some instances the same location, but there are rooms that don’t appear on any of the reports. Have they been covered or missed?
Equally when commissioning multiple surveys, it’s vitally important that all the information is consolidated. Confusion will ensue if one targeted survey highlights certain asbestos containing materials, but another survey covering the same location shows differing asbestos containing materials. Which report is correct?
Trust is an important part of asbestos surveys and registers, once there is confusion within the data/results it can throw the rest into doubt.
Multiple Management Surveys – This scenario is more prevalent in domestic surveys but has been witnessed in commercial properties. Targeted surveys are instructed for a refurbishment scheme e.g. bathrooms, kitchens, windows, but the scope is ‘Targeted survey with management survey to the rest’. Imagine how many times a basic domestic property could be surveyed. Not only do you have the potential issue as above, discrepancies in findings, but the emphasis can be taken away from the real task ‘the targeted survey’, allow the surveyor the time to focus on the refurbishment element.
If the system allows you could include ‘the reinspection of existing asbestos containing materials’ into the scope of the visit, at least this way you will benefit from a condition check for damage or deterioration.
Alternatively, if you know that several schemes may be rolled out over the coming months or years why not write a scope that covers the main areas e.g. management survey to the entire property with targeted refurbishment to allow for replacement of kitchen, bathroom, electrics etc.
Is a survey always a requirement prior to refurbishment?
NO, it obviously depends on the scale and scope of a refurbishment, but if you have good quality base data in the form of the management survey (possibly even supported by previous additional targeted surveys), very often there is enough information to assess the risk without the need for an additional survey [visit+time+cost].
For real long-term success with the management of asbestos (and cost savings), focus on the quality of the base data and the method of capture and consolidation. Always look at the opportunity to improve the level and detail of the data, this may save you time and money in the long term.
Always be prepared to review your information against any proposed works and ‘Assess the Risk’.
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