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Asbestos Surveys

It is a legal requirement for an asbestos survey to be carried out where refurbishment or demolition works are planned for a building. It is also necessary to identify asbestos containing materials in the workplace if it is thought possible that the occupants may come into contact/disturb asbestos containing materials whilst in the course of normal activities . There are two types of asbestos surveys outlined in HSG 264 – " Asbestos : The Survey Guide " namely ;

Management Asbestos Survey (MAS)

A MAS is the standard survey. Its purpose is to locate, as far as reasonably practicable, the presence and extent of any suspect asbestos containing materials (ACM’s) in a building which could be damaged or disturbed during normal occupancy, including foreseeable maintenance and installation, and to assess their condition.

MAS’s will often involve minor intrusive work and some disturbance. The extent of intrusion will vary between premises and depend on what is reasonably practicable for individual properties. A management survey includes an assessment of the condition of the various ACMs and their ability to release fibres into the air if they are disturbed. This ‘material assessment’ will give a good initial guide to the priority for managing ACMs as it will identify the materials which will most readily release airborne fibres if they are disturbed.

MAS’s will usually involve sampling and analysis to confirm the presence or absence of ACMs. However, a MAS can also involve presuming the presence or absence of asbestos. A MAS can be completed using a combination of sampling ACMs and presuming ACMs or, indeed, just presuming. Any materials presumed to contain asbestos must also have their condition assessed (ie a material assessment).

Refurbishment and Demolition Asbestos Survey (RDAS)

A RDAS is needed before any refurbishment or demolition work is carried out. This type of asbestos survey is used to locate and describe, as far as reasonably practicable, all ACMs in the area where the refurbishment work will take place or in the whole building if demolition is planned. The asbestos survey will be fully intrusive and involve destructive inspection, as necessary, to gain access to all areas, including those that may be difficult to reach. A RDAS may also be required in other circumstances, e.g. when more intrusive maintenance and repair work will be carried out or for plant removal or dismantling.

There is a specific requirement for all ACMs to be removed as far as reasonably practicable before major refurbishment or final demolition. Removing ACMs is also appropriate in other smaller refurbishment situations which involve structural or layout changes to buildings (e.g. removal of partitions, walls, units etc). A RDAS report should be supplied by the PSDP to contractors, so that any asbestos risks can be addressed. In this type of asbestos survey, where the asbestos is identified so that it can be removed (rather than to ‘manage’ it), the asbestos survey does not normally assess the condition of the asbestos, other than to indicate areas of damage or where additional asbestos debris may be present. However, where the asbestos removal may not take place for some time, the ACMs’ condition will need to be assessed and the materials managed.