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Why are asbestos surveys so important?

The importance of carrying out an asbestos survey was highlighted recently by a case in the north-east of England, where an independent building contractor was prosecuted for breaching the Control of Asbestos Regulations, 2012.

Although aware that asbestos was a potential issue in the project, he failed to commission a survey to establish its presence beyond doubt. The homeowners had mentioned the possibility of asbestos being present in the garage roof during an initial visit to their property.

According to asbestos regulations, any uncertainty about whether or not asbestos is present should be dealt with in a specific manner, i.e. by commissioning a survey prior to starting the work, to ensure that members of the public are not exposed to danger.

What type of survey is required?

There are two different types of asbestos survey:

  • Management Survey: this is applicable for managing asbestos on an ongoing basis, and includes checks on the condition of any asbestos-containing materials present. In some cases, materials would be tested to establish whether they pose a danger to those nearby.
  • Refurbishment/Demolition Survey: as the name suggests, this is the type of survey that should have been commissioned on the home extension project mentioned above. They are carried out by accredited surveyors, who in this case would have tested and identified asbestos within the garage roof.

Both types of survey place the health and safety of members of the public and those working on older buildings, to the fore, and are part of a procedure that’s obligatory for contractors to follow.

Severe financial penalties

The contractor mentioned above received a fine of £267 from the courts and had to pay £1,765 in costs, but severe financial penalties are common, and in the worst cases a prison sentence can be handed down by the courts.

Putting the public at risk is a serious offence and it only takes a small release of asbestos fibres to cause ill-health in the future, especially within a domestic property where dust may settle unnoticed.

This is the reason why asbestos awareness training is so important for tradespeople – it equips workers with the knowledge to identify and understand the risks of working with asbestos, with the main message being to avoid it and call in specialists.

Asbestos awareness online training

These types of training courses cover everything you need to know about identifying asbestos, where it might be located, the ramifications of inhaling dust particles or fibres, and what to do in an asbestos emergency.

With so much asbestos still being present in older domestic and commercial properties, it is now obligatory for employers to provide this type of training to workers who could come into contact with the substance.

Also highly advisable for self-employed tradespeople such as central heating engineers, plumbers and electricians, who could easily encounter asbestos at work, asbestos awareness training ensures that no-one is placed at unnecessary risk and protects the health and safety of us all.