You’ve had your asbestos survey report back – what next?
Steve Walker, Senior Consultant and Head of Asbestos Services at risk-management specialists Lucion Consulting, discusses what to do next if your report highlights positive asbestos samples
You’re about to start your modernisation project but, before starting any on-site work, you’ve been proactive about protecting your building occupants and site teams by having an asbestos pre-refurbishment survey conducted by a trusted, accredited supplier.
The asbestos survey report has come back showing positive, high- and medium-risk samples in multiple areas of your building. What do you do now?
The next stage is to decide your plan of action.
1. Encapsulate and manage your asbestos containing materials
Depending on the scope of the refurbishment and the current condition of the asbestos, it may be safer and more cost efficient to manage your asbestos-containing materials in situ. This can be done through encapsulating the asbestos containing material if required, with a substance that will resist the effects of degradation and protect against minor contact.
Once the asbestos-containing materials have been encapsulated, as the Duty Holder, you will be required to have your asbestos surveyed annually and assessed to ensure that it does not pose a risk to individuals within your buildings.
Should any circumstances change in your buildings, such as a change of or increased occupancy, that would increase the risk of disturbance. You must ensure that the condition is assessed more frequently, or the activities and occupancy within the room is managed to ensure you are protecting individuals from airborne asbestos fibres.
2. Remove the asbestos
How long does asbestos take to be removed?
This is a question I am often asked by clients. Asbestos abatement/removal is part of a larger process in the asbestos-management timeline.
Providing there are no delays and depending upon the material type and extent of the asbestos discovered, the average time between a client contracting the first asbestos survey prior to works commenced and the building being cleared for work can be up in excess of 45 days, meaning sufficient time and consideration within the planning phase of the project is required.
Asbestos removal is usually complex and time-consuming, with multiple steps, stakeholders and contractors involved.
When choosing an asbestos removal contractor, it is important to know which type of removal you are managing:
- Licensed Asbestos Removal
Licensable work with asbestos is higher-risk and can only be conducted by a licensed asbestos removal contractor
- Non-licensed or Notifiable Non-licensed Asbestos Removal
Projects involving less risk (such as sporadic, low-intensity and less risk of exposure) may not require a licensed contractor, but you will require a competent and trained contractor.
Recently, there have been calls for the complete removal of asbestos from all public buildings, including schools, universities and hospitals to negate the risks of deteriorating asbestos that could release deadly asbestos fibres, if disturbed.
Unfortunately for many older buildings, due to the nature of their design, this may require complete demolition in order to facilitate asbestos removal, which could be costly and not feasible in the short-term.
Whichever option, it is important to proactively manage your asbestos risks and achieve compliance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) 2012. Asbestos exposures are preventable when the correct course of management action is taken.
The costs of getting asbestos management wrong can be substantial and pose unnecessary, avoidable risks to occupants and those involved.
As part of the UK’s leading asbestos inspection, testing and consultancy, Lucion Consulting, named ‘Best Risk Management Consultancy 2019’, offers tailored solutions to help you to achieve compliance. We can help you to manage and take control of your asbestos risks.