What are the different types of asbestos surveys?

asbestos gone van

There is more than one type of asbestos survey, and it can be confusing if you don't know which one you need. In this blog, we look at each survey and consider the differences between them.

Refurbishment and demolition survey

A refurbishment and demolition (R + D) survey is designed to check for any asbestos before a building is demolished or any major refurbishment work takes place.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, this type of asbestos survey is there to ensure that:

  • nobody is harmed during the demolition/refurbishment
  • the right contractors are carrying out the work safely

When asbestos is disturbed – as it would be during a demolition – it is broken up into small, dust-like pieces, and can be inhaled by the people living and working nearby.

Exposure to asbestos damages the lungs, which over time can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma (a type of cancer caused by asbestos), and asbestosis.

This type of asbestos survey goes beyond the face of the building to check for asbestos in hard-to-reach places, and this can result in some damage to the property.

Just some of the places you can expect the survey to delve into include:

  • suspended ceilings
  • partition and cavity walls
  • floors
  • ducts and lift shafts
  • roof voids
  • cladding

If asbestos is confirmed, then a decision will be made between safely removing it or putting the right control measures in place while the work is taking place.

9/11 and asbestos exposure

Two thousand tons of asbestos fibres were released into the air when the twin towers collapsed in the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centres in New York.

Between the late 1960s and early 70s, asbestos materials were used extensively in the construction of the towers. Their unplanned destruction decades later sent a massive plume of dust into the air, exposing thousands of people to asbestos.

According to the Mesothelioma Centre, nearly half (46.7%) of the 9000+ people heavily exposed to the dust have reported symptoms of an asbestos-related illness.

At least 352 people have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, and this figure is expected to rise between now and 2051.

Nobody could have predicted 9/11, but there are lessons that can be learned from the effects of breathing in asbestos. When it comes to planned demolitions, it is critical that the right control measures are put in place to protect everyone involved.

Asbestos management survey

If there's a chance that asbestos could be present, then by law, there has to be a plan in place for dealing with it in non-domestic buildings.

Non-domestic buildings include:

  • offices  
  • warehouses and factories 
  • shops
  • common areas of multi-occupancy domestic premises.   
  • public buildings – hospitals, libraries, schools. etc.

If the property was built before the year 2000, or it's on a brownfield site, then it could contain asbestos and it should be covered by an asbestos management plan. 

In some cases, the duty holder or owner may be able to draw up their own plan, but for complex or large premises, the HSE recommends using an asbestos surveyor

The surveyor will start by looking for asbestos in the premises and making a materials assessment.  

This type of asbestos survey is designed to ensure that: 

  • nobody will be harmed by the continuing presence of asbestos
  • the asbestos containing materials remain in good condition, and
  • the materials aren't going to be accidentally disturbed by anyone

By making minor intrusions into the material, the surveyor can assess how likely it is that the asbestos will release fibres into the air if it was to be disturbed in the future. 

The final report should list any asbestos present, its type, location, condition, and any surface treatment applied to it. The surveyor may also give a judgement on whether they think the materials should be repaired or removed. 

How do the types of asbestos survey differ?

Both types of asbestos survey are designed to protect people from exposure to asbestos, but they are used in different ways: 

  1. An asbestos management survey is designed to ensure the safety of everyone living and working in the building under 'normal circumstances'.
  2. A refurbishment and demolition survey is about preparing for the planned disruption of asbestos to protect the people involved in the work.

The refurbishment and demolition survey is more thorough in its search for asbestos – accessing hard to reach areas that aren't included in the management survey. Those areas left unchecked during a management survey are listed in the final report.

Both types of asbestos survey include sending samples from the site to an independent laboratory for formal identification.

Occupants of the building could be asked to leave until the results are returned – and they may not be allowed back in until it has been certified fit for reoccupation.

How to find an asbestos surveyor

If you're responsible for looking after a building that could contain asbestos, then your first step should be to find an asbestos surveyor. There are a lot of firms out there all claiming to be able to do the same thing, so how do you know which one to pick?

Start by looking at their reviews online and reading what other people have written about their work. Other people's willingness to recommend them says a lot about a company!

At Asbsestos Gone, we are proud to say that our customers consistently rate us highly.

Some work with asbestos can only be carried out by a licensed professional, so check to make sure the firm you're considering is registered with the health and safety executive.

We offer refurbishment and demolition surveys, and asbestos management surveys, in the South-East of England covering London, Essex, and Kent. If you're outside this area, contact your local authority and ask them for a list of licensed suppliers.

We are a team of asbestos experts trained and accredited to the highest standards, so you can rest assured that you are in safe hands with us. If you have a question about the type of asbestos survey you need, contact us today.