Owners of both residential and commercial properties often ask if they need an asbestos survey. Whether a survey is legally required is dependent upon many specific factors. Sometimes a survey is completed simply to protect people from asbestos exposure.

The duty to manage asbestos

The legislation that sets the rules for asbestos and asbestos surveys is the Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) 2012. Contained in section 4 of the regulations, is the duty to manage. This is directed at those who manage non-domestic properties, built before 2000. These people are responsible for protecting others from the risk of asbestos exposure. They need to protect employees and people who use the premises in other ways.

What premises are affected by the duty to manage?

Non-domestic properties

The duty covers all non-domestic properties built before 2000. Such as industrial, commercial or public buildings, including, but not exclusive to:

  • Factories
  • Warehouses
  • Offices
  • Shops
  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Care homes
  • Dental and G.P. practices
  • Leisure centres

Domestic properties

The duty also covers ‘common’ areas of some domestic buildings. Blocks of flats have areas such as:

  • Corridors
  • Lift shafts and lifts
  • Foyers
  • Staircases
  • Roof spaces
  • Outhouses
  • Yards

Areas such as these are also covered by the duty to manage.

For domestic properties such as your own home, there is no legal requirement to hold asbestos information. Despite this, ahead of refurbishment works, a survey will protect you and any tradespeople involved in your project. Increasingly, an asbestos survey is needed before purchasing a home. This can highlight the presence of asbestos and be a point for negotiation.

Surveyor looking at a tablet by a van after completing an asbestos survey

How to comply with the duty to manage…

There are three steps:

  1. Find out if your premises contains asbestos, where it is located and its condition.
  2. Assess the risk identified asbestos presents.
  3. Make a plan to manage the risk and carry out any recommended actions.

An asbestos survey is the starting point in meeting these requirements.

Asbestos surveys

Some materials contain asbestos or are presumed to contain it. They are commonly referred to as asbestos containing materials (ACM). The purpose of an asbestos survey is to make a materials assessment and will:

  • Find ACM and record what it is, where it is and its quantity.
  • Make an assessment of its accessibility, its condition and any surface treatment.
  • Confirm the asbestos types present within your building.
  • Recommend a course of action to ensure that the ACM is dealt with in the safest way.

Types of asbestos surveys

Management survey

A management survey is required to manage ACM during normal occupation and use of a building. The survey will identify ACM that could be damaged or disturbed during:

  • Normal activities
  • Foreseeable maintenance
  • Installation of new equipment

It involves minor intrusion and disturbance of the building’s fabric. The survey will guide clients and inform the prioritisation of any remedial work.

Refurbishment/demolition survey

As the name suggests this type of survey is needed when the premises, or a section of it, need updating, refurbishing or demolishing.

The survey must identify all ACM before any structural work begins. It is an intrusive survey and is likely to cause disturbance to the building’s fabric.

What must a dutyholder ensure?

The dutyholder has a responsibility to ensure:

  1. That they commission the correct survey type.
  2. That they have a survey completed in all areas that need it.
  3. That all required records are created, updated and managed.
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