Preparing for an Asbestos Survey: What Property Owners and Occupants Need to Know

When it comes to maintaining a safe property, understanding the risks associated with asbestos and preparing adequately for an asbestos survey is crucial. This naturally occurring fibrous mineral was once widely used in various construction materials due to its strength and ability to resist heat, fire, and electricity. However, when asbestos fibers are disturbed, they pose severe health hazards, making it essential for property owners and occupants to take appropriate measures before an asbestos survey.

Understanding the Necessity of an Asbestos Survey

An asbestos survey is necessary to locate and assess the presence and condition of any asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) within a property. Typically, buildings constructed or refurbished before the year 2000 are most at risk of containing asbestos. The survey aims to ensure that no one is harmed by the continuing presence of ACMs in the premises and that the material remains in good condition.

Types of Asbestos Surveys

There are generally two types of asbestos surveys:

Management Survey: This is the standard survey required to manage asbestos during the normal occupation and use of the building. It ensures that ACMs do not harm the occupants and workers.

Refurbishment and Demolition Survey: Before any work is done on buildings that may contain asbestos, this detailed survey is necessary to prevent harm to the workers and occupants. It identifies if and where there is asbestos, and what condition it’s in, so it can be appropriately removed.

Steps to Prepare for an Asbestos Survey

Notify All Parties

Inform all occupants, including tenants and management personnel, about the planned survey. Because the presence of asbestos can be concerning, clear and timely communication is necessary to explain the purpose of the survey and how it will be conducted.

Secure a Qualified Surveyor

Ensure that the survey is performed by a qualified asbestos surveyor. Accredited professionals have the expertise to identify different types of asbestos and can offer advice on managing any ACMs identified.

Provide Access to Areas

All parts of the property, including hard-to-reach spaces, may need to be accessed during the survey. Property owners or managers must provide keys or access codes to all areas of the building.

Clear Clutters in Spaces

Remove unnecessary items and declutter rooms, especially the areas where asbestos is most commonly found, such as basements, attics, boiler rooms, and under sinks. This allows the surveyor to move freely and reduces the risk of disturbing any concealed ACMs.

Secure Sensitive Information or Valuables

Remove or secure sensitive documents and valuables from the sites to be surveyed beforehand. Safety and privacy should be paramount during this process.

Create a Safety Protocol

Devise a safety protocol for occupants during the survey, particularly if there's a possibility that ACMs could be disturbed. Identify safe areas and communicate clear instructions for evacuation if needed.

Expect Shutdowns of Utilities

Depending on the extent of the survey, there may be moments when utilities must be temporarily shut down. Plan accordingly to minimize disruption.

Prepare for Post-Survey Actions

Be ready to close off areas if ACMs in poor condition are found and need immediate attention. A qualified surveyor will provide detailed recommendations for managing or removing the asbestos.

Understanding the Findings

After the asbestos survey, you’ll receive a report detailing the findings. This report will identify the locations of ACMs, suggest a management or removal action plan, and advise on complying with current legislation.

In Conclusion

Preparing for an asbestos is a responsible and critical process that ensures the health and safety of everyone involved with a property. By engaging accredited professionals and taking the necessary preparatory actions, property owners and occupants can significantly mitigate the risks associated with asbestos. Ultimately, understanding and managing these risks is not only a regulatory requirement but also a key component in the stewardship of safe, healthy living, and working environments.

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