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Asbestos Demolition Surveys

Why do we need to have our buildings surveyed?

Well first of all if you are the owner, occupier or person responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of Non domestic premises, then you are classed as the Duty Holder. As a Duty Holder it is your responsibility to find locate and record all asbestos containing materials within those premises for which you have control over. Where organisations have large portfolios of buildings they will need to identify and select an ‘Appointed Person’ to manage the asbestos within their properties and manage the companies ‘Asbestos Management Plan’

What’s the Risk?

Large amounts of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were used for a wide range of construction purposes in new and refurbished buildings until 1999 when all use of asbestos was banned. This extensive use means that there are still many buildings in Great Britain which contain asbestos. Where asbestos materials are in good condition and unlikely to be disturbed they do not present a risk.

However, where the materials are in poor condition or are disturbed or damaged, asbestos fibres are released into the air, which, if breathed in, can cause serious lung diseases, including cancers.

Workers who disturb the fabric of buildings during maintenance, refurbishment, repair, installation and related activities may be exposed to asbestos every time they unknowingly work on ACMs or carry out work without taking the correct precautions.

The purpose of managing asbestos in buildings is to prevent or, where this is not reasonably practicable, minimise exposure for these groups of workers and other people in the premises.

To prevent this exposure, information is needed on whether asbestos is, or is likely to be, present in the buildings, so that an assessment can be made about the risk it presents and appropriate measures put in place to manage those risks.

Where a building or part thereof is planned for demolition, a ‘Management Survey’ is no longer a valid tool as the very fabric of the building is going to be accessed, to be legislative compliant for the purposes of satisfying regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR 2012), a ‘Demolition Survey’ will be required, this type of survey can be targeted to include only the areas where the demolition is to take place and the areas which might be affected by the works. Like a Refurbishment Survey a Demolition Survey is more in depth and of an intrusive nature i.e. accessing floor and ceiling voids, wall cavities to ascertain a greater understanding of what materials may be encountered, their accessibility and extent.

So what is a Demolition Survey?

A ‘Demolition Survey’ is needed before any demolition work is carried out.

This type of survey is used to locate and describe, as far as reasonably practicable, all ACMs in the whole building or buildings demolition is planned. The survey will be fully intrusive and involve destructive inspection, as necessary, to gain access to all areas, including those that may be difficult to reach.

There is a specific requirement in CAR 2012 (regulation 7) for all ACMs to be removed as far as reasonably practicable before major refurbishment or final demolition.

Under CDM, the survey information should be used to help in the tendering process for removal of ACMs from the building before work starts. The survey report should be supplied by the client to designers and contractors who may be bidding for the work, so that the asbestos risks can be addressed. In this type of survey, where the asbestos is identified so that it can be removed (rather than to ‘manage’ it), the survey does not normally assess the condition of the asbestos, other than to indicate areas of damage or where additional asbestos debris may be present. However, where the asbestos removal may not take place for some time, the ACMs’ condition will need to be assessed and the materials managed.

Demolition surveys are intended to locate all the asbestos in the building so that it can be removed safely before the buildings are dismantled / demolished.

The Demolition Survey is a disruptive and fully intrusive survey which needs to penetrate all parts of the building structure.

The use of aggressive inspection techniques are needed to lift carpets and tiles, break through walls, ceilings, cladding and partitions, and open up floors.

In these situations, controls should be put in place to prevent the spread of debris, which may include asbestos.

Demolition surveys should only be conducted in unoccupied areas to minimise risks to the public or employees on the premises. Ideally, the building should not be in service and all furnishings removed.

There may be some circumstances where the building is still ‘occupied’ (ie in use) at the time a ‘demolition’ survey is carried out. For example in the educational sector, refurbishment/demolition surveys may be conducted in schools or colleges during one closure period (eg holidays) and the work not undertaken until the next holiday period.

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