Asbestos Material Risk Assessments and Priority Risk Assessments

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There are two types of assessments, material risk assessment and priority risk assessments. Together they will show you the total risk and help you manage it.

What is a material risk assessment?

The material risk assessment is carried out by an asbestos surveyor on site and looks at the risk of the asbestos product releasing asbestos fibres.

The assessment looks at the product type, the extent of damage to that material, the surface treatment and what asbestos type or asbestos fibre has been identified. These are all given scores.

Product type scores

For product type you will receive a score of 1,2 or 3. An example of a score of 1 would be plastics, asbestos cement, resins, mastics, felt or floor tiles – generally materials where the asbestos is well bound within the matrix of the material. These are the lower risk products.

A score of two covers things like asbestos insulating board, textiles, gaskets, ropes and paper. This represents a slightly higher risk.

Examples of number three scores are thermal insulation, pipe insulation, boiler insulation, spray coatings or loose asbestos fibre. These are high risk materials.

Damage extent scores

In this category you may receive a score of zero if the materials are in a good condition with no visible damage.

Low damage scores one. Low damage could be minor imperfections within the product such as scratches to the surface, a small broken edge or a nick out of a tile.

Medium damage scores two. There may be several areas where there is damage and the product could lose asbestos fibres. There may be significant breakage such as cracked sheets or boards with holes in them.

High damage score three. This is described as significant and major damage to the material.

Surface treatment scores

A zero score here would be given to reinforced plastics, resins, plastic tiles –

dense materials which really do bind the asbestos fibres within itself.

A score of one is given to higher risk materials which have been enclosed, for example, piping insulation The material must be completely enclosed, within a secondary protection or it could be clad with aluminium or have a specialist coating.

A score of two would be given to unsealed asbestos insulating boards or encapsulated laggings and sprays.

Three would be given to higher risk, unsealed items.

material risk assessments

Asbestos type scores

Chrysotile white asbestos score one, all of the amosite brown asbestos plus all of the lesser mined asbestos types score two and crocidolite blue scores three.

Material risk combined score

Once you have the scores in each category you put them together and it gives you a low, medium or high material risk assessment.

It’s all about the risk of the materials releasing asbestos fibre and once you have your results in these categories, it is easier to understand.

Priority risk assessments

When you’ve got all this information you need to look at the risk of someone coming into contact with the asbestos product within your property. This is the priority risk assessment and it is also broken down into categories which are scored from zero to three.

Within some of these categories there may be sub-categories. They could be a main score for normal occupants and then another score for secondary activities that might take place in the location. For example, a school hall is hardly ever used during the day other than for assemblies but, in the evenings, it may be used for sports. The activities are completely different therefore you would combine the normal and secondary activity to give you an overall risk.

Scores for disturbance

A zero score would be given to an area where there is minor activity. A room which is never really occupied during the day, if at all, within the week.

A one is for low disturbance – that could be a boiler room where somebody goes once a month to take boiler readings.

Two would be given for periodic disturbance and activity. This is where you have a location which is used daily.

Finally, a three is for areas with high levels of disturbance, such as a main access through a building where it is constantly in use.

You need to look at accessibility. How easy is it to get close to that asbestos material? A zero is inaccessible and unlikely to be disturbed. One is occasionally likely to be disturbed. Two is easily disturbed and three is routinely disturbed. The more it gets disturbed, the higher the score.

In the likelihood of disturbance, you need to look at extent of asbestos material. Zero is something really small, such as a gasket. Then you have a score of one for 10 sqm, two for 10 to 50sq and three for anything above 50sqm.

Scores for human exposure potential

The first part of this looks at the number of occupants likely to be exposed. Zero is none, a score of one is for one to three people, two would be for four to 10 people and three would be over 10 people

Next we have how frequently the area is used. Zero is infrequent. One is monthly, Two is weekly, Three is daily.

In summary

By combining the material risk assessment and the priority risk assessment you will get an overall risk which will help with your asbestos management plan.

Completing Your Assessments

The HSE have put together a form which you can download and use to complete your own material assessments and priority risk assessments. Click here to download

Alternatively, you can use our Material assessment and Priority risk assessment online form. Simply fill in the details and generate your own forms to print. Click here to get started.

We’re a professional asbestos consultancy helping businesses deal with asbestos compliance using asbestos surveysasbestos air testing, and asbestos removal management. Please call one of the team, or use the online form to obtain your free quotation. If you would like further information or advice on asbestos and asbestos training, contact the team on 0844 818 0895 or Contact Us

Neil Munro

I work in a dual role at Acorn Analytical Services focused primarily on growing and leading the business from our Northampton office base. My focus is on overseeing all sales, marketing and financial activities from Northampton. I assist clients with high-level asbestos management strategies and training. Together with Ian Stone I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I'm Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

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