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Decoding Your Asbestos Report: What You Should Know


Just received your asbestos report and not sure what it means? It may seem complicated at first but we have put together this guide to highlight the key areas of information you will come across and how you can decode what this means. Of course, at Environmental Inspection, we believe that our reports are presented in a way that is easy to follow. But, you might have reports that you are not completely sure about and we are keen to help.

We will help you understand what each section of your report means and how you can use this to determine your next steps. In this guide, we will cover:

General Information and Protocols

This section of your report will provide you with the general information and definitions you need to know to enable you to interpret the rest of the report. We will go through each section in detail to ensure you understand their contents.

General Contact Information and Scope of the Survey

In this section, you will find general information such as the exact location that was surveyed, the name of the client and client contact, surveyors that undertook the survey and its date. The definitions of an Asbestos Management Survey and an Asbestos Refurbishment/Demolition Survey are also provided to ensure you understand the difference between the two and to confirm you have the correct survey for what you want to achieve from the report. It also specifies the limitations of the survey undertaken.

Executive Summary

A table including the location and type of asbestos containing materials (if present) is provided as an overview for the report. This table can either be colour-coded or state clearly the risk rating for each identified asbestos item (e.g. ‘low risk’ to ‘high risk’). The key to the colour-coding is detailed in the Total Overall Score section with green being very low risk for potential exposure through to red being high risk of potential exposure.

This section will also display which areas of the site could not be accessed for whatever reason outside the control of the asbestos surveyor. They will be clearly identified as ‘No Access’. This could include locked rooms, live electrical boxes, lift shafts, or any areas where there is a risk to the health and safety of the surveyor. These areas may be colour-coded red because the presence or absence of asbestos products cannot be determined.

Limitations of the Survey

Any limitations of the survey will be covered in this section of the report. Limitations include areas that could not be accessed, any unidentified asbestos samples, and areas not mentioned.

These limitations are for the client to understand that the survey was conducted to the best of the ability of the surveyors, with the available access and within the agreed scope specified by the client. Any areas where the survey has not been undertaken are not to be assumed to be asbestos-free, but rather, presumed to contain asbestos until proven otherwise.

No Access / Limited Access and Sampled / Strongly Presumed / Presumed Materials

This portion of the report provides definitions for each of the following:

  • No Access – areas where access could not be gained for safety reasons.
  • Limited Access – areas that were restricted during the survey.
  • Sampled Materials – samples taken by Environmental Inspection are sent to an independent UKAS accredited laboratory for testing following the procedures documented in HSG264.
  • Strongly Presumed Materials – materials where no physical samples were taken but are strongly suspected to contain asbestos due to a visual inspection by the surveyor or where a similar material has been confirmed to contain asbestos.
  • Presumed Materials – any materials without analysis conducted due to factors, such as no access to the area, are presumed to contain asbestos.

Any strongly presumed or presumed materials should be sampled and analysed to determine whether or not they contain asbestos.

Survey Conditions and Protocol

In this section, you will find information about the procedure that was taken to conduct the survey and how the results from the survey will be displayed. Additionally, it will specify where to find different elements of the survey.

How to Interpret Your Results

Now that the general introduction to the report is complete, we can take a look at how to interpret the results of your survey. This section is essential, as you will be able to understand your results at the end of the report in detail.

Material Assessment Algorithm

The Material Assessment Algorithm is an assessment used to quantify the risk of each asbestos item identified. It aims to determine the risk of potential fibre release from a product. The HSE standard assessment risk scoring documented in ‘HSG264 Asbestos The Survey Guide’ and its parameters means that all competent surveyors should come to the same or very similar risk score for each specific asbestos material.

The scoring system for the Material Assessment Algorithm is discussed in this section. There are four parameters that dictate the fibre release of a material:

  • Product type
  • Extent of damage or deterioration
  • Surface treatment
  • Asbestos type

Product type (material description) and asbestos type are rated on a scale of 1-3. The extent of damage or deterioration (material condition) and surface treatment are rated on a scale of 0-3. Examples of what these scores mean are also displayed in a table to ensure you understand the thinking behind these scores.

A total score between 2 and 12 (known as the material assessment) will be displayed for each sample.

It must be noted that any presumed materials will be scored according to the worst case asbestos type present for that product because a sample and analysis must be undertaken before knowing otherwise.

Priority Risk Assessment

A Priority Risk Assessment (PRA) may also be provided in the report if it’s an Asbestos Management Survey and the property is occupied. This section details the relative priority of each asbestos containing material, to assist with the management of the known asbestos items i.e. the order in which you should deal with them.

The surveyor and duty holder should assess each asbestos item together to compile the priority risk assessment scores.

The factors used to determine priorities are the main type of activity in the area, the likelihood of disturbance, human exposure potential, and the maintenance activity. Each of these factors is scored between 0 and -3. An average of these factors is calculated and added to the overall score as detailed below.

Priority Risk Assessments will not be included in Asbestos Refurbishment Surveys or Asbestos Demolition Surveys because all products with a potential for disturbance should be removed prior to works.

Total Overall Score

By combining all the elements from the last two sections, a detailed risk assessment score can be provided. These scores can be colour-coded as follows:

  • Red – high risk, immediate action.
  • Amber – medium risk, action required within 3 months.
  • Yellow – low risk, action required within 6 months.
  • Green – very low risk, action required within 12 months.

This can be the same colour-coding used to interpret the executive summary at the beginning of the report. Alternatively, some reports do not colour-code but rather clearly state the risk of asbestos (e.g. ‘low’).

If there is no asbestos present in the item, this score will be left blank in the asbestos register and the item will not show in the Executive summary.

What Your Results Mean

By now, you should have a better understanding of what to expect from your asbestos survey report. The final section of this blog will take you through how to interpret your results and what your next steps should be.

General Room Information

At Environmental Inspection, we do a general room profile. This will include details such as the building components. With Environmental Inspection asbestos reports, photos of the location will also be provided to give a more accurate briefing of the area, so that any limitations can be documented visually.

Any items identified as containing asbestos will be displayed in this section. It will show the item description, the product, and item number only. Also in this section, ‘No Access’ items will be documented, with the item description and item number.

Any items that do not contain asbestos will also be listed, again with the item description, the product, and item number only.

Finally, the materials that make up different areas of a particular location are identified. For example, ceiling voids, ceilings, walls, floor, and fixtures and fittings. Any additional comments about the general location are also provided, if applicable. This will generally relate to area-specific caveats such as access restrictions during the survey.

Asbestos Register

The asbestos register may be presented differently from company to company, but the contents will be the same. Each identified suspect item is given a individual item number and this corresponds to the item numbers given in the previous section. A specific description of the item and clear unique location reference or space code is provided alongside a picture of the item taken at the time of the survey to assist in identifying the item and showing its current condition.

A Material Assessment Algorithm will be displayed for each item. A rating for each factor, as mentioned in the Material Assessment Algorithm, will be provided, with an overall Material Assessment score.

Comments may also be provided. These could, for example, provide context about the reason for presumed asbestos (based on other samples or because access could not be gained). If the sample is strongly presumed to contain asbestos based on other samples, it will reference the original item.

Recommendations for future steps involving each particular item will be provided based on the overall rating for the sample. These could include re-inspecting the asbestos-containing materials, following the management plan, remedial works such as encapsulation and repair, or removal. At Environmental Inspection, we go one step further, as we specify who can undertake the works (licensed or non-licensed asbestos contractors) per item.

The Priority Risk Assessment will also be displayed. Like the Material Assessment Algorithm, each of its factors will be rated and an average will be calculated for each factor. A final Priority Assessment score will be calculated by adding the average results for each factor together.

The Total Overall Score will be displayed at the bottom of each sample profile. This score will also be colour-coded as per the key from the Total Overall Score section. This score will enable you to understand which items contain asbestos and the potential risk from each item.

No Access Areas

In areas where there is no access, a Material Assessment Score of 12 will be given. This score will also be highlighted in red. This is to clearly state that an inspection of this location could not be undertaken and therefore it cannot be determined with confidence that there is no asbestos present in this area / item.

This does not mean asbestos is present in the location but instead highlights there is potential asbestos present until proven otherwise. If, in the future, access can be gained, an inspection should be undertaken to confirm or deny the presence of asbestos.

No Asbestos Detected (NAD)

This is a sample that has been analysed and is proven not to contain asbestos.

Asbestos Bulk Sample Analysis Certificate

This certificate displays the official UKAS laboratory results from the samples taken. It includes general information such as the site location, date of analysis, and who took the samples. Specific information relating to the survey report includes:

  • Unique sample number for the laboratory.
  • Project unique sample number so it can be referenced against the correct item in the report.
  • Location where the samples was taken.
  • The material tested.
  • The analysis result (type of asbestos present in the material tested or NAD).

Site Plans

Finally, the site plans for the location are provided. A site plan is a 2 dimensional floor plan of the site or survey area with details of where positive and negative items and ‘No Access’ items and areas are located.

Each floor plan will have the sample number and a colour-code. The colour-code can differ, but generally, it will be along the lines of:

  • Red – positive asbestos material.
  • Amber – no access to the area.
  • Green – negative asbestos material.

The site plan is an alternative view of the results, helping you to visualise the location more clearly, to understand areas that contain asbestos material and areas that do not.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need an asbestos report?

It is a legal requirement that all non domestic buildings or structures built pre 2000 must have an asbestos register. Communal areas and externals of houses in multiple occupation ( HMO ) also require an asbestos register, but the individual room or residential flats do not. Its is also a legal requirement for private home owners to have in place an asbestos register if instructing trades to work within / or on their property as it will become their place of work and therefore the regulations would apply. DIY by a private home owner is not included in the asbestos regulations and therefore does not require an asbestos register. In order to compile an asbestos register an asbestos survey would need to be undertaken by a professional asbestos surveyor.

It is a legal requirement to manage asbestos and known asbestos items as a minimum, these should be assessed every 12 months as a minimum higher risk items more often by an asbestos consultant to ensure that the risk of the asbestos containing item is monitored and controlled.

Additionally, if you plan to refurbish or demolish a building, then an intrusive asbestos refurbishment / demolition survey is required. This needs to be completed before any work is undertaken.

How do I get an asbestos report?

You will need an external qualified and competent surveyor to conduct an asbestos survey at your site.

What is the difference between an Asbestos Management Survey, Asbestos Refurbishment Survey and an Asbestos Demolition Survey?

Asbestos Management Survey:

An Asbestos Management Survey is the standard survey and is not intrusive. The purpose is to locate, as far as reasonably practicable, the presence and extent of any suspect Asbestos Containing Materials in the building which could be damaged or disturbed during normal occupancy, including foreseeable maintenance and installation, and to assess their condition. This information is documented within the asbestos register located in the asbestos survey report.

An Asbestos Management Survey will often involve minor intrusive work when taking samples however we try to do this in inconspicuous locations where possible. The survey will include an assessment of the condition of the various Asbestos Containing Materials and their ability to release fibres into the air if they are disturbed in some way. This is known as a ‘Material Assessment’ the score given will give a good initial guide to the priority for managing Asbestos Containing Materials as it will identify the materials which will most readily release airborne fibres if they are disturbed. The management survey cannot be used to carry out refurbishment in the building- a new refurbishment survey must be conducted prior to any future works.

Asbestos Refurbishment Survey:

An Asbestos Refurbishment Survey is required before any Refurbishment work is carried out. This type of survey is used to locate and describe, as far as reasonably practicable, all Asbestos Containing Materials in the area where the refurbishment work will take place.
This type of survey can be fully intrusive and involve destructive inspection, as necessary, to gain access to all areas, including those that may be difficult to reach. Although our surveyors will seal any access points to make them safe, this is a temporary repair and will affect the décor of the building. An Asbestos Refurbishment Survey may also be required in other circumstances, e.g. when more intrusive maintenance and repair work is required on plant and equipment- we will require assistance in gaining safe access to plant and equipment included in the scope. The refurbishment survey is scope specific and should not be used to conduct refurbishment works outside of this scope- a new refurbishment survey must be conducted prior to any future works to a different scope.

Asbestos Demolition Survey:

An asbestos demolition survey is fully intrusive and can only be carried out at the end of life of a building, in a vacant and decanted site, which will not be reoccupied and where services have been isolated. Destructive survey techniques will be employed which could include breaking open fixed walls, boxings, floors, and ceilings. Temporary making goods will only be carried out where required to seal exposed suspect asbestos items. Substantial damage must be expected after the demolition survey has been completed. Where the demolition of the building is delayed, further inspections may be required to re-assess the condition of the Asbestos Containing Materials, in particular where water ingress or vandalism has occurred.

Asbestos Report Successfully Decoded

After that quick whistle-stop tour of a typical asbestos survey report, hopefully, you feel more confident in being able to interpret and understand your asbestos report. This blog provided a quick overview of the different elements of a typical asbestos report, so make sure you read your reports carefully as they provide detailed information in each section of the report.

If you have any questions regarding your asbestos reports or require an asbestos survey completed in your buildings, then please feel free to contact us.

All Surveys / Inspections and Compliance Documents provided and undertaken by Environmental Inspection Limited are in line with current Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR 2012), Health and Safety Executive Guidance HSG264.

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