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Why it pays to have an asbestos survey prior to any work undertaken

After hearing of a school closure after asbestos was found during building work (Asbestos find closes King Edmund School in Rochford until new year) we detail why it pays to have a pre-refurb/demo (RD) asbestos survey carried out during the planning stage. 

King Edmund School, Rochford (BBC)
King Edmund School, Rochford (BBC)

Are you duty holder of a property?

If you are the duty holder of a property that was built before 2000, you need to be aware of asbestos regulations. This also applies to the person or persons that are appointed by the duty holder to manage pre-2000 premises.

The BBC article states that asbestos was found during building work and after a building was demolished.

Therein lies the problem.

There should have been a pre-refurb/demo (RD) asbestos survey carried out when PLANNING the work. This would have identified any Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) that were present. It would then have been a simple process of getting the ACMs removed – PRIOR TO STARTING WORK, which would have saved closing the school and all the inconveniences that comes with that decision.

Much as an RD survey should identify all ACMs, it is also possible to not locate all until some work has taken place, for example under plant and pipework in a boiler room. Ideally this is where everyone works together and an asbestos surveyor is on site at the point of the item being removed, to enable it to be fully assessed. This is also where Asbestos Awareness Training comes into its own, as with this knowledge, contractors know when things don’t look right and if they need to stop work and get the area further assessed before continuing.

As Asbestos Limited's MD, Debbie Hales comments:

"I applaud them for taking action, but sadly I feel that this could have been avoided if the laws and guidance had been followed.

"This situation would not have arisen for our clients, so if you need help simplifying your asbestos management and ensuring that any works that are required are carried out as safely, and cost effectively as possible, please get in touch."