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Asbestos survey guidance updated by HSE

18 February 2010

Updated guidance is now available to help those responsible for managing the risks from asbestos and to protect employees and contractors who may disturb it.

The HSE has published 'Asbestos: The survey guide' aimed at those who commission asbestos surveys, the surveyors who carry them out and those who use them such as architects and demolition or removal contractors. It replaces the MDHS 100 guidance and sets out the role of surveys in ensuring that builders or maintenance workers have all the information they need to minimise their risk of exposure to asbestos and put the right precautions in place.
The guidance has been prepared to help people carrying out asbestos surveys and those with specific responsibilities for managing the risks from asbestos under Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 (CAR 2006). However, it is also designed to provide guidance in situations where surveys may be carried out for other purposes e.g. for 'managing' asbestos in domestic premises under wider health and safety legislation and for meeting the requirements of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM). It complements and supports other guidance on managing asbestos.
Regulation 4 of Control of Asbestos Regulations contains an explicit duty on those who are responsible for the maintenance and repair of non-domestic premises to assess and manage the risks from asbestos. It is a legal requirement that information about the location and condition of asbestos containing materials within a building is available to contractors and tradesmen undertaking any work in the building.
Asbestos-containing materials were used for a wide range of construction purposes in new and refurbished buildings until 1999 when all use of asbestos was banned . Around 500,000 non-domestic buildings still contain some form of asbestos and though it is unlikely to present a risk to the general public if it remains undamaged, tradesmen are potentially at risk if they disturb it through the course of their work.
'Asbestos: The survey guide', which was developed by the HSE with input from a range of organisations uses clear examples of best practice. It gives advice on how to select a competent surveyor − recommending the use of ABICS certified or UKAS accredited organisations and what the client should expect from them. It also contains greater detail on conducting refurbishment and demolition surveys, what asbestos containing materials look like and where to find them and new guidance on the use of surveys in the rented domestic sector.
Said Steve Coldrick, HSE's asbestos programme manager: "Around 4,000 people die from asbestos related diseases every year − more than die in road accidents. Asbestos is still a real risk if it is not managed properly. The regulations set out who is responsible for managing the risk in non-domestic buildings and what this should involve. This up-dated and user-friendly guidance clearly sets out the role of the survey in managing asbestos and really helps people make sense of it and relate it to real-life situations. We've worked with more than 30 organisations to develop it. We wanted those people who were most likely to use the guidance suggest what they would find most useful."
The guidance is available to download free of charge Click Here


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