Refurbishment and Demolition asbestos surveys explained

 A refurbishment and demolition (R&D) survey is required when your school, or part of it, needs upgrading, refurbishment or demolition.  This is to ensure that pupils, staff, parents etc. will not be harmed by work on asbestos containing material (ACM) and that the work will be done by the right contractor in the right way.  The survey locates and identifies all ACM before any structural work begins and involves destructive inspection and asbestos disturbance.  The area surveyed must be vacated, and certified 'fit for reoccupation' after the survey.

How do you ensure that this happens? Firstly, make sure you appoint a reliable, competent organisation to carry out the R&D asbestos survey. Although it is not mandatory, UKAS accreditation against International Standard ISO 17020 is a good benchmark to sort out the wheat from the chaff in the asbestos consultancy market. Make evidence of UKAS accreditation a pass/fail item at the pre-qualification stage and obtain evidence that they have the requisite experience of working on the type of buildings involved.

Also give them as much background information as you can about the building and the project to enable them to plan the survey accordingly and match their methodology to the works involved.

If you have a scope or specification for the building works pass this to the consultancy so they can accurately target the intrusive areas to survey.  Whenever possible you should be passing them accurate buildings plans so they can locate service ducts, voids and risers where much of asbestos containing material is placed.

You may also consider commissioning an asbestos specification to be prepared before you procure any removal works. The specification, prepared by an independent consultant (possibly your survey company) will provide a forensic interpretation of the inventory of ACMs in the surveyor’s report which records the findings but doesn't necessarily assess the implications. The specification should be prepared in consultation with other stakeholders i.e. FM team, building contractor or the wider design team, so that it can take account the locations, methodology and extent of any activity which has been planned.

For example, the survey identifies asbestos containing material in the basement riser and 3rd floor riser but none on the first or second floors. The consultant preparing the specification will evaluate this information for the spec and should speculate that the debris results from lagging of pipework running the length of the riser and suspect that while no asbestos was found during the survey on the second and third floors it is likely there will be some and will visit site and double-check this, or ask the surveyors to confirm whether this risk has been properly evaluated. This can prevent either the discovery of further contamination after the removal is let, or the contractors allowing for risk that doesn't need to be taken into consideration, artificially inflating the costs of the removal.  

The specification can then be used to create a level playing field during the procurement of a licensed contractor and remove the uncertainty which can lead to unforeseen or un-quoted work arising later in the project. It will require some investment, perhaps cost a few days’ work to compile and complete, but this forensic approach to the asbestos management could reduce the removal costs by as much as 30%, a nice added bonus. Finally, for a belt-and-braces approach, think about factoring-in a 5-10% overspend on asbestos management as well to cover other eventualities.

Asbestos management is not an exact science but the more effort that you can put-in during the planning stages will help mitigate the potential disaster of unforeseen material being discovered later in the project.

Global Environmental has the skills and resources to help schools discharge their duties under the Control of Asbestos Regulations and the Construction, Design and Management Regulations. They will arrange an R & D survey of your school prior to your refurbishment project to identify any asbestos containing material, assess the condition and risk and recommend a course of action.

To make an appointment call 01279 213600

Paul Phillips, Operations Manager, Global Environmental


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