What is involved in a pre-demolition asbestos survey?

If a building set to be demolished requires an asbestos survey, that is because there is a suspicion there may be asbestos present in the building.

A pre-demolition asbestos survey is necessary to locate and describe ALL asbestos-containing materials so they can be safely removed from the building before demolition, so as to eliminate the health risks associated with asbestos.

What does the process involve?

Pre-demolition surveys are intrusive, which is to say they are thorough, and damage is always caused to the building itself. Where possible, site managers will review surveys and reports from when the building was constructed and use these as a reference. If these don’t exist, best practice applies using similar buildings as reference, since buildings raised around the same time often have similarities.

The surveyor will ideally have access to the site layout, building plans, building specifications and architect’s drawings, and any history of asbestos work.

The contractors who perform an asbestos search are highly specialised and trained. They search every nook and cranny of a building to find and describe any asbestos or suspicious materials. They search by the square metre or foot and use hand and power tools to rip away sections of the interior to search for any asbestos. When such materials are identified, they are logged, and a sample is taken to test.

The removal of asbestos involves breaking up large swathes of material, sealing it, and carrying it to disposal on site. The contractors who perform the original search are often the same who perform the removal. The materials are removed using special equipment and a thorough report is written in real-time logging everything.

For the demolition to go ahead, the team needs to remove all asbestos from the building and only when the building has been deemed safe for demolition can the demolition team begin preparations for bringing it down. It’s always desirable to remove all asbestos but this is not always possible. If some asbestos remains, it may be necessary to bring the building down in stages for a sufficient clean up operation.

Why is a pre-demolition asbestos survey necessary?

As noted before, a pre-demolition asbestos survey is necessary to locate and describe ALL asbestos-containing materials so they can be safely removed.

The reason why is the case is because of the law. The law says that all demolition projects must be carefully planned and carried out in a way that prevents danger. Also, the law says that you need a survey unless you know there is no asbestos present.

Asbestos causes respiratory diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, pleural thickening and lung cancer. However, it only becomes a health problem once it’s disturbed and the fibres become airborne. Demolishing a building makes this happen, and therefore, it must be removed from the building before it comes down. Removing asbestos is a specialist job and is not something you can do yourself.

We provide both management asbestos surveys and demolition asbestos surveys. The difference is a demolition survey is for demolition, and a management survey is for change of use or occupancy purposes. Before a survey, you may require an asbestos risk assessment to determine the potential risk of exposure to asbestos.

The aim of a pre-demolition asbestos survey is to ensure no one will be harmed by work on ACM (asbestos containing materials) and that such work will be done in the right way by the contractor. If you’ve been told you do not need an asbestos survey, we recommend seeking a second opinion from our experts. This process is important and it’s always best to be sure and safe when working with hazardous materials.

Think you have asbestos?

We’ve provided pre-demolition asbestos removal for over 50 years. We are qualified and licensed asbestos removal experts, with significant experience on industrial sites. For expert advice and removal, call us on 0113 255 8919.

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