May 5 2020

Managing asbestos and removing it is a specialised job that requires professional methods and safety practices. Asbestos has been used in the building industry for decades and was renowned for its fire resistance and low cost.

However, asbestos has since been discovered to cause a range of ailments and diseases and is responsible for around 2,500 deaths a year in the UK alone.

The manufacture of asbestos has been banned since the late 1990s but still exists in buildings, products and construction materials. This means that anything made before the last 20 years could potentially house harmful asbestos fibres.

Finding asbestos

The first step is selecting likely areas where asbestos may be present. Some of the most common areas include:

  • Sprayed coatings
  • Asbestos insulating board
  • Asbestos in the ceiling or floor cavity
  • Water cisterns 
  • Pipes
  • Guttering
  • Asbestos cement products 
  • Textured coatings
  • Floor tiles
  • Textiles
  • Composites

While most modern buildings are unlikely to contain asbestos, it is wise to check for asbestos before performing any extensive renovations or repairs. Some materials don’t usually require asbestos testing and these include;

  • Glass
  • Wood
  • Stone
  • Brick
  • Mortar
  • Concrete
  • Metal

However, for anything that isn’t a certainty, we mark it for testing to ensure we cover every square inch of your property. 

Asbestos Testing

Before testing, you should always try to find out as much about your building’s asbestos history as possible. Make sure you look for any previous asbestos work records or speak to previous tenants and owners. They can supply you with any relevant information or records before carrying out new surveys. 

For a comprehensive survey book an asbestos management survey. We’ll assess your property and give you professional advice on what can be done should asbestos be present. 

Asbestos Testing Preparation

When testing for asbestos, knowing as much information about the building as possible can be useful to establish whether there is existing asbestos. Make sure you have an experienced, licensed team to carry out your work. 

Above all else, if you think you have an asbestos problem leave it alone. Disturbing asbestos can release fibres which can be inhaled and lead to conditions such as mesothelioma. 

Testing for Asbestos

To test for asbestos, professionals should always take samples and then the sample should be analysed by a UKAS accredited lab as this work requires specific equipment and precautions. 

The basic process for sampling includes dampening the sample, placing it sealed bags, labelling each sample with its origin and delivering it to a UKAS accredited asbestos-testing laboratory. 

Positive tests will show the presence of asbestos-containing materials often shortened to ACMs. While these tests are carried out it’s important to make sure that everyone in your building knows about the presence of asbestos.

Throughout this entire process make sure you work with a business with an asbestos licence. This licence is supplied by the HSE and allows the holder to work on all types of asbestos safely and legally. Anyone carrying out licensed work on asbesto without the correct license is breaking the law.  

Last but not least follow these HSE guidelines if you think you have found asbestos in your structure.

  • Stop work immediately.
  • Minimise the spread of contamination
  • Clean up the contamination.
  • Use a Class H vacuum cleaner or damp rags to clean up any dust or debris
  • Don’t take used overalls home
  • Don’t reuse disposable PPE
  • Don’t eat, drink or smoke in the work area

For more information on common materials that may contain asbestos consult the HSE’s asbestos guide. This breaks down every possible place you may find asbestos. 

We’re committed to helping building owners protect themselves, their families, employees and customers from the threat of asbestos inhalation. 

We have amassed years of experience and carry out every asbestos removal on time and budget. If you think you may have asbestos or even just want some peace of mind, contact us now for a free, no-obligation quotation. Our team of friendly experts is waiting to help you with any asbestos needs.