What areas of a property are included or excluded in an Asbestos Management Survey

The purpose of an Asbestos Management Survey is to locate and assess the condition, as far as reasonably practicable, the presence and extent of Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) within non-domestic properties constructed before the year 2000, which could be damaged or disturbed during normal occupancy and foreseeable maintenance works.

A Management Survey may include some minor disturbance of finishes, depending on the nature of the building and the style of construction. The extent of intrusion will vary and be dependent on the degree of disturbance required for foreseeable maintenance.

An Asbestos Management Report will cover areas of the building which can reasonably be accessed without putting at risk the Surveyor and their Assistant.  Any inaccessible areas will be recorded in the Asbestos Survey Report.

Areas of a building that should be accessed and inspected so far as reasonably practicable include:-

  • Beneath floor coverings.
  • Within ceiling voids, service ducts/risers.
  • Loft spaces.
  • Basements, cellars, undercrofts.
  • External elevations.
  • The grounds and any outbuildings associated with the property.
  • Any area where foreseeable future maintenance works are required.

Lift shafts should only be surveyed with the assistance of a qualified Lift Engineer to ensure safe access into the shaft. Areas such as undercrofts may need to be classed as a “confined space”, and should only be accessed following an agreed safe system of work, and by competent persons.

Areas of a building which may not be accessed must be presumed to have asbestos present, such areas could include:-

  • Live mechanical and electrical plant and equipment, such as boilers and distribution boards etc.
  • Any area of a property likely to endanger the Surveyor such as fragile roof coverings will also be excluded and must be presumed to contain asbestos until confirmed otherwise by further survey work.

All areas of no access and where asbestos is presumed to be present should be clearly recorded in the Asbestos Survey Report.

By presuming the presence of Asbestos Containing Materials, the need for sampling and analysis can be deferred until a later time (eg before any work is carried out). However, this has implications for the management arrangements. The duty holder may have additional costs of managing some non-ACMs.

Asbestos Surveyors should always do their utmost to positively identify ACMs. A sufficient number of samples should be taken to confirm the location and extent of ACMs. It is acceptable to reduce sample numbers where materials can be strongly presumed to be ACMs. ie where a material is easily identifiable as being the same as a previous sample already taken, it can therefore be strongly presumed.

The option to presume Asbestos should always be avoided where possible, as it can make managing asbestos more difficult for the duty holder. The presumption of ACMs should only be used in circumstances where it is requested by the Client and/or where access genuinely cannot be obtained.

Posted by: Tom Price, Head of Asbestos Management Services.

For further information on Asbestos Surveys, please contact Tom Price by phone 01332 668877 or email ([email protected]).