Asbestos surveys are a mandatory part of Asbestos-Containing Material (ACM) management. In Australia, both asbestos surveys and registers incorporating a visual inspection, are required under work health and safety regulations for all commercial buildings constructed prior to 1990, but just to be safe the industry suggests building constructed prior to 2003 (Safe Work Australia, 2018).
Specifically, Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 states that a person with management or control over a workplace must:
- Ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that all ACM at the workplace is identified by a competent person or has its presence assumed
- Ensure an ACM register is prepared, maintained, reviewed and kept at the workplace. It must be readily available to workers, their health and safety representatives and other persons
- Where ACMs have been identified at the workplace, ensure a management plan is prepared, maintained and reviewed. It must be accessible to workers, their health and safety representatives and other persons.
- Review the register at least once every five years to ensure it is kept up-to-date.
Breakage of ACMs through methods such as drilling, sanding, or cutting with power tools can cause fibres to spread where they are inhaled by people in the surrounding area. Because of this, every workplace needs to conduct an asbestos survey in order to identify any ACMs in the building.
What is an asbestos survey?
An asbestos survey is a procedure that is conducted within a workplace in order to aid in the management of ACMs. It involves the combination of a visual inspection of the accessible areas of the building, and the collection of materials that are suspected to contain asbestos.
Any suspected asbestos samples are then analysed by an accredited laboratory to identify whether or not asbestos is present in the material. The results of the asbestos survey are tabulated in a register which include:
- Location of the ACM
- Asbestos composition and type through mineralogical analysis and the material friability
- Risk to health based on the condition, potential disturbance and occupancy level
- Recommendations to control or further minimise risk to occupant health
The results of an asbestos survey are an essential part of an asbestos management plan and are essential to identify asbestos situations to contractors conducting maintenance or repair work. An asbestos survey should be conducted on a yearly to five-yearly basis, depending on if the ACM has been disturbed or removed, to identify the risk to health.
There are different types of asbestos surveys, depending on the reason why they are conducted. These asbestos surveys include:
This kind of asbestos survey is the best solution if damaged material is being repaired which may pose a potential health risk to building occupants. An asbestos screening assesses suspect ACMs by obtaining samples for analysis. It targets areas with damage and potentially friable ACMs.
Limited Asbestos Survey
A limited asbestos survey is a more comprehensive sampling of building materials and suspected ACMs than a regular asbestos survey. It is a more targeted approach for an asbestos survey, focusing on building material that could include the roof, certain walls, siding, and/or any singular area where ACM is suspected or probable.
Path of Construction/Pre-Renovation Asbestos Survey
This kind of asbestos survey is limited to the path of construction and/or the actual building materials. This test could be used when renovating a single storefront in a larger shopping centre, for example. The asbestos survey in this instance would ensure that the renovation taking place would not impact the environment or release ACM to areas that are disturbed during construction or renovation activities.
Pre-Demolition Asbestos Survey
This kind of asbestos survey is by far the most comprehensive asbestos survey. This survey inspects all facets of an entire building, including interior and exterior building materials, utilising destructive sampling protocols. A demolition survey necessitates the destruction of small sections of the building to uncover ACM behind the walls, floors, or other hard to get to areas.
Who conducts asbestos surveys?
An asbestos survey is always conducted by qualified individuals; either an appointed ACM coordinator within your business or a qualified representative of a third party organisation that has the means to safely investigate and uncover ACM.
How can dedicated ACM management software help with asbestos surveys in the workplace?
ACM management software such as Octfolio comes with a wide range of features that help identify ACM exposure sites as well as provide all of the necessary information on them that an ACM coordinator would need when conducting an asbestos survey. It is easier to coordinate an asbestos survey with the use of a software that digitises these procedures and automates them wherever possible.
Not only does Octfolio have comprehensive ACM registers that are easy to both use and access, it also allows you to map ACMs across multiple building locations, making it an invaluable asset for any business (big or small) regarding ACM compliance and removal.
How can I make an asbestos survey as efficient and effective as possible?
Because it can be complicated to conduct an asbestos survey, a simple software solution such as Octfolio is a valuable asset for your business. Octfolio contains every function that you need in order to easily handle and asbestos survey, including;
- Asset management
- Report management
- Compliance management
- Document management
- Maintenance management
- Digital ACM register
- Field data collection
- Automated reporting
- Workflow automation
- Risk calculator
- ACM interactive mapping software