2 Types of Asbestos Surveys: Which Is the Right Choice for Your Building?

Asbestos used to be a commonly used building material, but today, experts know that it can cause severe health problems. This material remains one of the largest causes of work-related deaths for those who used to come into frequent contact with it on the job. As a result, asbestos surveys are now required by law. There are two types of asbestos surveys: management asbestos surveys and refurbishment and demolition asbestos surveys. Read on to find out about the key differences between them for help with determining which will offer the right fit.

Management Asbestos Surveys

Management asbestos surveys are visual inspections of buildings that note the condition of all materials that contain asbestos and assess the risks they would pose during normal occupancy. Surveyors collect samples but perform only minimally intrusive work. During a management asbestos survey, it’s common for surveyors to presume the presence of asbestos in some materials without confirming it using sampling.

Management surveys are performed in non-domestic buildings constructed before 2000. They’re also required in domestic buildings that feature shared spaces like corridors, lobbies, and foyers. The purpose of these surveys is to monitor asbestos-containing materials and manage the associated health risks. This type of asbestos testing is used to develop an asbestos management plan in buildings that are not slated to undergo substantial reconstruction projects.

Refurbishment and Demolition Asbestos Surveys

When left undisturbed, asbestos does not pose significant health risks. It’s only when the fibers are released and breathed in by nearby workers or residents that asbestos has the potential to become deadly. Construction workers are thus much more likely to be harmed by asbestos exposure than a building’s occupants or residents. That’s where refurbishment and demolition asbestos surveys come in.

Refurbishment and demolition surveys are required whenever materials will be disturbed as part of construction work. They’re much more intrusive than management asbestos surveys, so buildings need to be vacated while they are performed to prevent harm to occupants and other workers. If the area of the building slated to be refurbished or demolished contains licensed asbestos-containing materials, the survey can only be performed by a licensed contractor.

Which One Is the Right Choice?

Management asbestos surveys must be performed in any building that features public areas built before 2000, regardless of whether the potentially asbestos-containing materials will be disturbed. They need to be performed regularly to ensure proper maintenance of the material or, if necessary, alert surveyors when it needs to be removed.

Refurbishment and demolition asbestos surveys are mandated before any construction project that involves refurbishing or demolishing a building constructed before 2000 unless there is evidence that asbestos was not used in its construction or the material has already been removed. These more comprehensive surveys are designed to protect construction workers from mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer that can result from asbestos exposure. The surveyor must also notify the HSE if asbestos is detected, and the materials must be removed under controlled conditions and disposed of at a licensed waste site before the project can proceed.

The Bottom Line

When inhaled, asbestos can be deadly. The health impacts of asbestos exposure often go unnoticed for decades, so the only way to protect construction workers and consumers is to identify potentially dangerous materials to prevent unanticipated contact. Those who want to learn more can get in touch with a licensed surveyor with questions.

Rylie Holt