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February 1, 2010

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Guidance- The role of asbestos surveys

Updated guidance is now available to help duty-holders minimise the risks of workers’ exposure to asbestos.

Called ‘Asbestos: The survey guide’, the publication is aimed at those who commission asbestos surveys, carry them out, and/or those who use them – such as architects and demolition, or removal contractors.

It replaces the MDHS 100 guidance and sets out the role of surveys in ensuring that builders or maintenance workers have all the information they need to minimise their risk of exposure to asbestos and put the right precautions in place.

Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations places an explicit duty on those responsible for the maintenance and repair of non-domestic premises to assess and manage the risks from asbestos. Information about the location and condition of asbestos-containing materials in a building must also be available to contractors and tradesmen undertaking any work in the building.

The guide, which was developed by the HSE with input from more than 30 organisations, uses clear examples of best practice. It gives advice on how to select a competent surveyor − recommending the use of organisations certified under the Asbestos Building Inspectors Certification Scheme, or accredited by UKAS to undertake such work – and what the client should expect of them.

It also contains detailed information on conducting refurbishment and demolition surveys, what asbestos-containing materials look like and where to find them, and new guidance on the use of surveys in the rented domestic sector.

Steve Coldrick, the HSE’s asbestos programme manager, said: “Around 4000 people die from asbestos-related diseases every year − more than die in road accidents. Asbestos is still a real risk if it is not managed properly.”

He added: “This updated and user-friendly guidance clearly sets out the role of the survey in managing asbestos, and really helps people make sense of it and relate it to real-life situations.”

The guidance can be downloaded at www.hse.gov.uk/PUBNS/books/index-hsg-ref.htm

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