What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is the common name for 6 naturally occurring fibrous silicate minerals. Three common types have been exploited commercially all over the world including the UK with more than 3500 products known to contain asbestos.
What are the risks from asbestos?
Asbestos is responsible for over 5000 deaths every year. Younger people, if routinely exposed to asbestos fibres over time, are at greater risk of developing asbestos-related disease than older workers. This is due to the time it takes for the body to develop symptoms after exposure to asbestos (latency).
Exposure to asbestos can cause four main diseases:
• Mesothelioma (a cancer of the lining of the lungs; it is always fatal and is almost exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos)
• Asbestos-related lung cancer (which is almost always fatal)
• Asbestosis (a scarring of the lungs which is not always fatal but can be a very debilitating disease, greatly affecting quality of life)
• Diffuse pleural thickening (a thickening of the membrane surrounding the lungs which can restrict lung expansion leading to breathlessness.
It can take anywhere between 15-60 years for any symptoms to develop after exposure, so these diseases will not affect you immediately but may do later in life. You need to start protecting yourself against any exposure to asbestos now because the effect is cumulative.
Asbestos was a widely used material within commercial buildings, homes and machinery until 1999, when it was banned.
Do I need an asbestos survey?
Effective planning is key to answering this. It is not about just turning up and taking samples. There needs to be a sufficient initial exchange of information between the duty holder, or client, and the surveyor. There needs to be a clear understanding between all parties of what is required and what is appropriate.
A management survey is a non-destructive survey which does not disturb the fabric of the building. This type of survey is usually sufficient for the purposes of normal occupation and prior to most maintenance tasks. All accessible surface materials will be assessed but it should also assess areas which could be subject to maintenance activity.
An asbestos refurbishment survey or an asbestos demolition survey will be required if intrusive works are being planned. Both surveys involve intrusive inspection of normally inaccessible areas with the aim of locating ‘hidden’ asbestos containing materials, which could be disturbed.
What is the ‘Duty to Manage’?
The duty to manage asbestos is a legal requirement under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (Regulation 4). It applies to the owners and occupiers of commercial premises (such as shops, offices, industrial units etc) who have responsibility for maintenance and repair activities. In addition to these responsibilities, they also have a duty to assess the presence and condition of any asbestos-containing materials. If asbestos is present, or is presumed to be present, then it must be managed appropriately. The duty also applies to the shared parts of some domestic premises.
Am I a Duty holder?
The duty holder is the owner of the non-domestic premises or the person or organisation that has clear responsibility for the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises, for example through an explicit agreement such as a tenancy agreement or contract.
How much will an Asbestos Survey cost?
There are many influencing factors, including:
• The size of your building or portfolio of buildings
• The age of your building(s)
• The aim of the survey
Shropshire Asbestos Services are expert asbestos surveyors with more than 16 years’ experience. We may be able to advise over the phone or via email, if you provide sufficient information. However, it is common practise to ascertain your requirements and advise following a brief conversation.