Regulation 5 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations relates to the identification of the presence of asbestos.
Under regulation 5, it puts the responsibility on the employer to identify asbestos before any building or demolition works are carried out. It covers the non-domestic market and the domestic market. When we are doing a project in a domestic property, it is the responsibility of the employer to identify asbestos before their staff begin work.
As part of regulation 5, if there is not adequate, existing information about the presence of asbestos, it is up to the employer to arrange a survey to help create a risk assessment on the hazards associated with the material.
Who takes responsibility on a refurbishment project under regulation 5?
Who should get the survey done on refurbishments – the duty holder or the contractor? We would tend to say this falls more to the contractor although it depends on the situation. For example, we have large retail clients who tend to arrange the surveys themselves whereas you’ll find this duty is often left to a contractor on larger construction projects.
In an ideal world you will have all the information available before you start the works. If the information isn’t available you have to go down the survey route to show whether the works are going to impact, or are likely to disturb, the asbestos.
What do we mean by works?
Works can be anything that disturbs the fabric of a building. That could be knocking down an exterior wall and having an extension or it could be having the boiler system replaced. Having a boiler replaced is still classed as refurbishment works because you are disturbing the fabric of the building.
Are you working with experts?
It is important that contractors are able to assess if the existing asbestos information they have is accurate. If a client has an existing survey you need to make sure it is accurate and has been carried out by someone who is competent. When you look at competency for reinspections, it says the surveyor needs to have knowledge, training and experience but there are no timescales relating to this.
There are UKAS accreditation out there which provide a level of competency. Check the competency of the company and the individual surveyor. If I was employing someone to survey my house, I would ask for a reference, a CV and examples of properties that they have worked on which are similar to mine. Think carefully about the information contained in the survey. For example, does the building layout in the survey cover where work is going to be taking place?
What should you do if your project changes?
We have seen numerous domestic projects where the homeowner is managing the project themselves. Halfway through they might change their about where windows or doors are going.
This means you need to update your plan. If windows are moved from one wall to another, you need to make sure that your refurbishment survey covers off these elements. If not, you effectively go back to a reset position and you either have to presume asbestos is there or you will need to identify asbestos before the works. Things change during projects and that’s fine so long as they are noted.
Does the information make sense on site?
If contractors are reviewing previous information, for example historical survey reports, we advise them to get a copy of the survey report and go to site to ensure the survey matches up with the site. Check that the photos match the asbestos that has been identified and sampled.
You have got to be comfortable with the information – the information must make sense on site. Can the people on-site, doing the works, understand what is in that report? Do they know that a page identified asbestos? Does the plan match up to the building and they understand where it is in the building? Have you seen stuff on site which is not in the report that you may be concerned about before you start the job? If it isn’t noted, this can cause a significant delay with the works and the final result.
If you need assistance under regulation 5 we’re here to help.
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