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Asbestos - don't panic?

Whenever anyone calls us, if asbestos is something they haven’t had to deal with before, there’s a tendency to panic. They risk throwing money at the problem before fully understanding why. 

It’s a natural response and usually a fear of the unknown is to blame. However, we advise it’s worth taking some time to understand where the risks may be before taking that action.

Beware the standard cover phrase ‘…may contain asbestos’

Most calls to us at the moment, seem to be from people purchasing a property and the valuation survey has included the standard blanket cover phrase of: “This property was built before 2000 and may contain asbestos”. During our call, there will be a mention of Artex and perhaps an asbestos garage roof but that will be it - these seem to be the only areas that the valuers are aware of. Rarely does the caller mention the potential for asbestos insulation board, which would be of greater concern.

'Tell me - what made you call us today?'

This is one of the first questions we ask because we want to make sure that you are spending your hard earned cash wisely and heading in the right direction. For example, we had a recent call from a lady who is having some work carried out to her property that may need a full rewire. The electricians had, quite rightly, pointed out that there was a chance her Artex contained asbestos and asked her to get it checked out. In talking things through with her, we established that she didn’t need a sampling visit to test the Artex - in actual fact, the electricians should be asking to see a pre-refurbishment Asbestos survey.

What’s the difference between an asbestos sampling visit and a survey?

The difference between the two services is that with a sampling visit, you have done all the work. You identify what you are concerned about and we attend to take a sample of the potential Asbestos Containing Material (ACM). The result is simply a 'Yes, it contains asbestos' or ‘No Asbestos Detected in Sample’ (NADIS).

With a survey, it is the surveyor who does all the work. It is their training and industry experience that sets this service apart from a simple sampling visit. They attend site, assess the property or the specified area and establish if there are any potential ACMs they should test. The survey report will also give the results in the same way as a sample result, but with the added benefit of a full risk assessment and recommendations.  

A surveyor may even be able to save you from having extensive testing carried out on items that are not potential ACMs. Additionally, if ACMs are identified, they are in a concise document that can be sent to remediation contractors. The remediation contractor can then quote for them in one go, rather than as separate, more costly visits.

We can help prevent unnecessary costs

Going back to our earlier phone call; had we just performed the service that was requested, the lady would have ended up paying for both services as opposed to opting for the survey which would include the sample results. There was also the risk that she wouldn’t have known a survey was necessary and the trades could (wrongly) just work from the sampling findings and potentially disturb other ACMs - that they did not know were present.

All trades working on a pre-2000 building must have received Asbestos Awareness Training, but this does not train you to work with ACMs. I tend to refer to it as a course that reminds you that you know very little about asbestos and that you should contact someone who does.

There are very helpful task sheets on the HSE website that help identify where the potential risks may be. However, without a survey, trying to use these task sheets is like driving blindfold the wrong way down a motorway. You know that it is a risk, but you can’t actually see whether it is a leaf or an artic lorry heading your way.

This blog has detailed why it is important to to be fully aware of the likelihood of discovering asbestos in a property you wish to purchase.

If you’re thinking you may need some help and guidance, don't hesitate to get in touch via our Enquiry form or call us on 01634 864550.

Asbestos regulations are complex, but with our help, managing it isn’t complicated