In this article we will explain what work goes into, or should go into planning, carrying out and producing an asbestos survey report. Hopefully, this will provide a greater understanding of the requirements, how the client/dutyholder can assist in the process and consideration for realistic timescales.
Stage 1 – Plan
If you get this stage wrong then you are unlikely to receive an appropriate survey. The guidance states ‘The key to an effective survey is the planning. The degree of planning and preparation will depend on the extent and complexity of the building portfolio. There needs to be a sufficient initial exchange of information between the dutyholder or client and the surveyor and a clear understanding by both parties of what is required. The information will be used to form the contract between the dutyholder and the surveyor.’ Some key information; building age, size, use, is it vacant or occupied, what type of survey, if refurbishment then what is the detailed scope of works, access requirements e.g. high level, accurate plans preferably in a format that can be amended such as AutoCAD. The full list is lengthy and can be found in Asbestos: The Survey Guide – HSG264.
Stage 2 – Assess the Risk
Following on from the planning stage and the information collated, assess the risk and any additional equipment required to complete the survey safely e.g. high level access equipment. At this stage any known site risks should be documented again to ensure the survey is carried out safely. The finalised scope should also be signed off and agreed between the client/dutyholder and the surveying company.
Stage 3 – Arrange Access
Once all the documentation has been agreed and orders are in place, then dates and times of the survey should be agreed. An understanding of access times should have already been discussed at the planning stage e.g. nights/days. A suitable date/time which gives the surveying company the best opportunity to access with the correctly qualified surveyor for the project and the client to meet their programme and limit disruption should be agreed.
Stage 4 – Carry out the Survey
As part of the survey, the surveyor will need to access all areas as agreed within the scope of works, including intrusive inspections for refurbishment & demolition surveys. Key information will need to be captured, including location names, descriptions, photographs. Samples of suspect materials will be taken and again key information captured, including product type, condition, photographs etc. Plans will need to be annotated with key information which will be utilised to produce the final asbestos survey report plans. If the surveyor discovers any major issues e.g. damaged asbestos, then this should be reported and escalated through the agreed channels.
Stage 5 – Sample Analysis
Following the completion of the survey, any samples taken will need to be returned to a UKAS accredited laboratory for microscopic analysis. A series of tests will be carried out on the suspect materials to determine if asbestos fibres are present and if so which types of asbestos. A sample certificate is produced once the samples have been checked and authorised.
Stage 6 – Report
Once the results of the samples are known, the survey report can be produced. The sample results will be entered and any cross reference materials updated. The survey plans will be produced based on the information the surveyor has recorded and the results of the laboratory sample analysis. The various components of the survey report can then be collated into one final document.
- Executive Summary
- Contract Information and Survey Scope
- Survey Results
- Certificate of Bulk Sample Analysis
Stage 7 – Quality Assurance
At this stage the final report should be subjected to a quality check by the lead surveyor and a suitably experienced technical advisor. Both individuals will be assessing that the scope of works has been covered and that the details contained within the report are accurate and consistent i.e. do the survey results, sample analysis & plans all match.
Stage 8 – Issue
Once the report has received a thorough quality assurance check the report can be issued to the client and published onto the online asbestos management system. At this stage any ongoing management requirements, such as monitoring of the identified asbestos, should be highlighted.
As you will have seen from the above, the process is an involved one, and not only from the time spent on site. As much effort needs to be made prior to the survey and once the site work is complete. At any of the stages, additional queries or quality checks may have to be completed which just adds to the overall workload and time frame.
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