An asbestos assessment or survey can be an intimidating prospect for a building’s owner, especially if this is the first time.
Asbestos management is important for maintaining both the safety of a building’s occupants, and the compliance of a building with government regulations. An asbestos assessment or survey plays an important role in asbestos management.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to prepare for an asbestos assessment or survey, to ensure that you are best equipped to maintain the safety and compliance of your building.
What is an asbestos assessment or survey?
An asbestos survey (a.k.a. an asbestos assessment) is a procedure that is conducted to identify the presence and condition of asbestos containing materials inside a building.
It involves inspecting all accessible areas of a building, including ceilings, walls, floors, insulation, pipes, and other materials, and taking samples to identify the presence of asbestos fibers. The results are then used to develop a management plan that outlines the proper control and removal of ACMs, as well as any necessary safety measures to protect workers and occupants.
Asbestos surveys must be conducted by trained and certified asbestos professionals who use specialised equipment and techniques to identify, confirm and quantify the presence of asbestos.
What is the process for an asbestos assessment?
Typically, the process of an asbestos assessment involves the following steps;
- The surveyor will first determine the scope and objectives of the survey, including the areas and materials to be surveyed, and any specific sampling or testing requirements.
- The surveyor will conduct a visual inspection of the building or structure, including all accessible areas such as ceilings, walls, floors, insulation, pipes, and other materials. They will also look for any materials that may contain asbestos, such as insulation, ceiling tiles, or floor tiles.
- If the surveyor suspects that a material may contain asbestos, they will take a sample for laboratory analysis.
- The samples are analysed in a laboratory using specialised equipment to determine if they contain asbestos fibres.
- The surveyor will prepare a detailed report outlining the findings of the survey; including the locations and condition of any asbestos-containing materials, the results of any sampling and analysis, and any recommendations for the management or removal of the asbestos-containing materials.
- Based on the results of the survey, a management plan will be developed to outline the proper control and removal of ACMs, as well as any necessary safety measures to protect workers and occupants.
How can I prepare for an asbestos assessment?
The goal of preparing for an asbestos assessment is to take steps to make sure that the process is as smooth yet thorough as possible. To achieve this, you can do the following;
Gather information on your building
Gather as much information as possible about the building, including its age, construction materials, and any renovations or additions that have been made. This information can help the assessor to identify potential ACMs and focus their inspection.
Identify potential ACMs before the assessment
Walk around the building or structure and make note of any materials that you suspect may contain asbestos, such as insulation, ceiling tiles, or floor tiles. This can help the assessor to identify and sample these materials for analysis.
Provide access to all areas of the building
Ensure that the assessor has access to all areas of the building or structure, including crawl spaces, attics, and other hard-to-reach areas. Clear any obstacles that may prevent the assessor from accessing these areas.
Notify occupants of the assessment
Notify the occupants of the building or structure that an asbestos assessment will be conducted, and provide them with information about the process and any safety precautions they should take. This can help to minimise disruption and ensure that everyone is prepared.
Schedule appropriately for all parties
Schedule the assessment at a time that is convenient for all parties involved, and allow enough time for the assessor to conduct a thorough inspection and any necessary sampling.
Provide all necessary documentation
Provide the assessor with any relevant documentation, such as building plans, renovation records, or previous asbestos assessments. This can help to guide the assessor's inspection and ensure that all potential ACMs are identified.
Be available to answer any questions
Be available to answer any questions that the assessor may have during the assessment, and be prepared to work with the assessor to develop a management plan for any identified ACMs.
How do I find the right asbestos assessor for my building?
Finding the right asbestos assessor is crucial to ensuring that your asbestos assessments are conducted properly and your building is safe. Here are some steps you can take to find the right asbestos assessor;
Look for certifications
Check that the assessor holds valid and current certifications, such as a Class A certification for conducting friable asbestos removal work or managing asbestos removal programs, or a Class B certification for non-friable asbestos removal work.
Ask for references from previous clients and contact them to ask about their experience with the assessor. You can also check online reviews and ratings.
Consider the experience of the assessor in conducting asbestos assessments, particularly in buildings or structures similar to yours.
Assess their knowledge
Ensure that the assessor has a good understanding of asbestos and its hazards, as well as the laws and regulations governing the handling and disposal of asbestos-containing materials.
Check the price
While cost should not be the only factor in choosing an assessor, it is important to consider whether the price quoted is reasonable and competitive with other assessors in the area.
Consult with multiple assessors
It's always a good idea to consult with multiple assessors before choosing one. This will help you to compare services, prices, and expertise to find the right assessor for your needs.
What do I do once an asbestos assessment on my building is complete?
Once the asbestos assessment is complete, you will need to complete the following tasks;
- Review the assessment report provided by the assessor, which should include a list of any identified asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) and recommendations for managing them. Make sure you understand the information provided and ask any questions you may have.
- Based on the recommendations in the assessment report, develop a management plan for any identified ACMs. This may include removal, closing off, or ongoing monitoring, depending on the condition and location of the materials.
- If the assessment report recommends removal or closing off of ACMs, take steps to schedule and complete these actions as soon as possible. If the ACMs are being managed in place, make sure that ongoing monitoring and maintenance activities are scheduled and completed as needed.
- If your building is a workplace or public building, notify relevant parties such as employees, tenants, or visitors of the presence of ACMs and the steps being taken to manage them. If the building is being sold or leased, provide the assessment report and management plan to potential buyers or tenants.
- Regularly monitor and review the condition of ACMs and the effectiveness of the management plan. Make updates and adjustments as needed to ensure the ongoing safety of occupants and workers.
How can Octfolio help me prepare for my next asbestos assessment or survey?
Octfolio is a complete asbestos management software solution that has all of the features you need to manage the asbestos information associated with your building.
This streamlines a lot of the steps outlined in the above procedure, ensuring that your next asbestos assessment or survey will go as smoothly as possible.
These features include;
- Asset management
- Report management
- Document management
- Maintenance management
- Digital asbestos register
- Field data collection
- Automated reporting
- Workflow automation
- Asbestos mapping software