Find asbestos - a hidden killer

Property owners and managers should be aware of their legal duties regarding asbestos management, and the need for locating and assessing the risks from any asbestos-containing materials in a building.

Specifically relating to managing and working with asbestos is the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR 2012).  Regulation 5, requires employers to identify the presence of asbestos, and its type and condition, before any building, maintenance or other work, liable to disturb asbestos, begins. It also sets out the requirement to arrange an asbestos survey if existing information on the presence of asbestos in the premises is incomplete or appears unreliable.

Also, section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act etc. 1974 applies to anyone conducting a business, such as landlords of domestic premises. This stipulates that an employer (or a self-employed person) must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the conduct of their undertaking does not present a risk, which includes risks from asbestos, to the health and safety of people who are not their employees.


Asbestos being disposed of

Asbestos surveys

There are three types of asbestos surveys, each covering different aspects of asbestos management: Management Survey, Refurbishment Survey and Demolition Survey.

A management survey, known as the ‘standard’ survey, is to locate, as far as reasonably practicable, the presence and extent of any suspected asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in the building which could be damaged or disturbed during normal occupancy, including foreseeable maintenance and installation, and to assess their condition.

If it is possible that the fabric of the building will be disturbed during refurbishment works then the building requires a refurbishment survey. The survey should locate, as far as reasonably practicable, the presence and extent of any suspected ACMs in the areas that are to be refurbished.  Therefore, the refurbishment job specification should be provided so that all the areas likely to be disturbed are surveyed prior to the work starting.

If a building or part of a building is to be demolished, a demolition survey is required, so that all ACMs can be identified and then removed, prior to the demolition taking place. Demolition surveys are the most intrusive and licensed asbestos removal may have to take place to access all areas for surveying purposes.

Choosing a Surveyor

Surveys can be carried out by in-house personnel or a third party. However, the surveyor must be competent to carry out the work required, and it is the duty holders’ responsibility to ensure the surveyor is competent to carry out the type of survey required.

When choosing a third party, clients should note that the HSE do recommend United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) accreditation for surveying organisations, although this is not a legal requirement. Also, accreditation for individual surveyors is not available. Members of the Asbestos Testing and Consultancy Association are UKAS-accredited surveying organisations and are located throughout the UK.

Further information on asbestos management is available at