Asbestos Surveys in Northern Ireland: Ensuring Safety and Compliance
Asbestos has long been recognised as a hidden killer, posing serious health risks when its fibers are released into the air. In Northern Ireland, large amounts of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were extensively used in construction until their use was banned by the UK Government in 1999. However, the risks associated with asbestos exposure still persist, making asbestos surveys a crucial step in ensuring safety and compliance with regulations.
Understanding Asbestos and Its Risks
Asbestos is a highly heat and chemical-resistant building material that was widely used in various construction applications from the 1960s to the mid-1970s in the UK. It was employed in floor tiles, pipe lagging, textured paints (Artex), internal partitions, roofs, gutters, and many other areas. Despite its advantageous properties, asbestos poses significant health risks when damaged or disturbed.
When asbestos-containing materials are damaged, fibers are released into the air. Inhalation of these fibers can lead to severe health consequences, including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. Shockingly, every week, on average, 20 tradesmen in the UK lose their lives due to asbestos-related diseases. To address this issue, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched the “Asbestos – The Hidden Killer” campaign, which aims to raise awareness and prevent further tragedies.
The Importance of Asbestos Surveys
To protect workers and individuals from accidental asbestos exposure, it is essential to conduct thorough asbestos surveys. These surveys serve multiple purposes, including:
- Identification of Asbestos: Asbestos surveys help locate and identify the presence of suspect ACMs within a building. This information is crucial for assessing the risks and developing appropriate management strategies.
- Compliance with Legislation: Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012, owners and occupiers of non-domestic premises have a legal duty to assess and manage the risks associated with asbestos. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in prosecution and even the closure of the workplace.
- Protection of Workers: Asbestos surveys play a vital role in protecting workers, especially those in the building and maintenance trades, who may unknowingly come into contact with asbestos during their work. By identifying the presence of asbestos, appropriate precautions can be taken to minimise the risk of exposure.
Types of Asbestos Surveys
There are two main types of asbestos surveys: Management Survey and Refurbishment/Demolition Survey. Each serves a specific purpose and is conducted under different circumstances.
1. Management Survey
The Management Survey, formerly known as Type 1 and Type 2 Asbestos Survey, aims to locate, as far as reasonably practicable, the presence and extent of any suspect ACMs in a building. This survey is essential for:
- Identifying the location and condition of ACMs
- Assessing the potential for fiber release
- Developing a management plan to control and monitor the risks associated with asbestos
2. Refurbishment/Demolition Survey
The Refurbishment and Demolition Survey, also known as Type 3 Asbestos Survey, is required before any refurbishment or demolition work takes place. This survey is necessary to:
- Identify all ACMs in the areas where work will be carried out
- Determine the presence of any additional ACMs that may be disturbed during the planned work
- Ensure the safe removal and disposal of asbestos-containing materials before construction or demolition activities commence
The selection of the appropriate survey type depends on the specific requirements of the client and the property. A competent asbestos surveyor can guide you through the process and help determine the most suitable survey for your needs.
The Role of a Competent Asbestos Surveyor
Asbestos surveys should only be conducted by qualified and competent individuals who possess the necessary experience and qualifications. A competent asbestos surveyor plays a crucial role in ensuring accurate and reliable survey results. They will:
- Conduct a comprehensive inspection of the premises, including inaccessible areas if required
- Use specialised equipment and techniques to identify and sample suspect ACMs
- Analyse the samples in accredited laboratories to determine the presence and type of asbestos fibers
- Prepare a detailed asbestos survey report, including the location and condition of ACMs, risk assessments, and recommendations for management or removal
By engaging a competent asbestos surveyor, you can have confidence in the accuracy of the survey findings and the subsequent actions necessary to manage and mitigate asbestos risks.
The Cost of an Asbestos Survey
The cost of an asbestos survey varies depending on the size and age of the building, as well as its accessibility and complexity. To receive a quote, you can provide building plans or measurements to the surveyor, who may be able to provide an estimate over the phone or via email. Alternatively, a free site visit can be arranged to provide a competitive asbestos survey quotation.
It is important to note that the cost of an asbestos survey should be seen as an investment in the safety and compliance of your premises. By proactively identifying and managing asbestos risks, you can protect the health and wellbeing of your employees and visitors, as well as avoid potential legal and financial consequences.
Understanding the Asbestos Survey Report
Asbestos survey reports are typically written in plain English, ensuring that building managers can easily understand the findings and recommendations. However, if there are any terms or details that you find unclear, the surveyor will be more than willing to provide further clarification. Understanding the asbestos survey report is crucial for taking appropriate action based on the identified risks and recommendations.
The Importance of an Asbestos Management Plan
Following the completion of an asbestos survey, it is essential to establish an asbestos management plan. The Duty to Manage asbestos legislation, which came into effect on May 21, 2004, requires the implementation of a rigorous management process for safely handling asbestos. An asbestos management plan should include:
- The asbestos survey or register, detailing the location and condition of ACMs
- Risk assessments to evaluate the likelihood and potential impact of asbestos fiber release
- Strategies and procedures for managing and monitoring the risks associated with asbestos
- Training and awareness programs for employees and contractors
- Regular review and updates to ensure ongoing compliance and effectiveness
Asbestos Solutions NI offers comprehensive asbestos management services, including the development and implementation of asbestos management plans. Their team of qualified professionals can guide you through the entire process, providing peace of mind and ensuring compliance with relevant regulations.
Choose Asbestos Solutions NI for Your Asbestos Surveys
Asbestos Solutions NI is a trusted provider of asbestos surveys and management services in Northern Ireland. With offices in Belfast and Coleraine, their team of experienced surveyors is dedicated to ensuring the safety and compliance of your premises. Asbestos Solutions NI understands the risks associated with asbestos and the importance of thorough surveys and robust management plans.
By choosing Asbestos Solutions NI, you can benefit from:
- Qualified and competent asbestos surveyors
- Accurate and reliable survey results
- Comprehensive asbestos management plans
- Compliance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations (NI) 2012
- Peace of mind and protection for your employees and visitors
To request a quotation or obtain more information about asbestos surveys, contact Asbestos Solutions NI through their website or by phone at 07702 332 333.