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Head office: 01388 345 530


Tradespeople: How do you know if a property contains asbestos?

A tradesperson sawing a piece of wood.

As tradespeople, you are exposed to a variety of hazards every day. Hopefully, these are all well managed and you and your colleagues are trained to be aware of the dangers. Asbestos is one of the potential risks that you face.

You have probably wondered more than a few times ‘Is this asbestos?’ or ‘Could there be asbestos in this property?’

We believe that you should never work in conditions of such uncertainty and we are here to help. We have prepared this guide on how to know if there is potential asbestos, what to look for, and what you can do.

How do you know if there is an asbestos risk?

First, it is only likely if a building was built before 1999. There is no guarantee that asbestos isn’t present in more recent buildings, but, this is the date from which all types of asbestos were illegal in the UK. So, it should not have been used after 1999 and would certainly have been harder to get hold of.

If a building was built before 1999, there is only one way to be confident that it is safe from asbestos. That is, to view a recent and relevant asbestos survey that has been produced by a trained and competent asbestos specialist.

The thing to remember is that just ‘having a survey’ is not enough. It needs to be the right kind of survey, in the right area of the building, done to the right level of detail.

Surveys required for commercial properties

For commercial premises, an asbestos management survey is required by law if the property was built before 1999.

This type of survey will only cover accessible areas. So, if you are doing refurbishment work, you may be accessing new materials that have not been surveyed or sampled. That is why an asbestos refurbishment survey is required.

If demolition is taking place, there is also a specific survey required; an asbestos demolition survey.

What if the client is a landlord?

This is where many people make mistakes. There are more legal duties on landlords than many of them realise. If a person earns income from renting out a property, then that is a business. The fact that it is a residential property makes no difference. So, asbestos management surveys are required just the same as for any other business.

If the building was built before 1999, it needs an asbestos management survey.

Likewise, if refurbishment or demolition is taking place, then the appropriate type of survey is required.

If you are working for a homeowner in their own home

What can you expect when working for a homeowner in their own residential property? In short, they are obliged to keep you safe from asbestos exposure.

Whilst there is no specific duty on homeowners to have asbestos surveys, they do have a duty to protect others from harm caused by their negligence.

So, if they are contracting you to work in their home, and you will be disturbing any materials installed before 1999, then an asbestos refurbishment survey should be undertaken. It should cover the entire area that will be refurbished. And, they must ensure that no asbestos fibres are released that endanger contractors or the public.

What should you do if you suspect asbestos?

Don’t begin work and cease any work that is underway. Everyone has a duty to manage their health and safety and the health and safety of others.

Recommend that your customer contacts a trusted, trained and experienced asbestos surveyor.

How can we help?

We are happy to answer any questions that you have or you can book a survey.

Environmental Inspection team members have the following credentials:

  • Prince2 qualified project manager.
  • Degree – (Bachelor of Applied Science) in Environmental Management.
  • NEBOSH Health & Safety qualification.
  • BOHS qualifications (British Occupational Health and Hygiene Society) in surveying, sampling, and monitoring.
    P405 Management of Asbestos in Buildings.
    P402 Proficiency Certificate in Buildings Surveys and Bulk Sampling of Asbestos.
    P403 Proficiency Certificate in Asbestos Fibre Counting (PCM).
    P404 Proficiency Certificate in Air Sampling of Asbestos and MMMF and requirements for a Certificate of Re-occupation.
    CSCS card and Electrical Safety Awareness.
    Experience in asbestos surveying, analysis and coordination of remedial and removal works.
    Experience in building facilities and environment.

Environmental Inspection is a full member of the National Organisation of Asbestos Consultants (NORAC).

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