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Asbestos reinspections

In this blog we will look at asbestos reinspections and how they differ from a survey. Usually, reinspections follow on from some sort of survey – you should have an existing asbestos register from a management survey or a refurbishment survey. Your existing asbestos information – outlining where the asbestos is and what condition it is in – is reinspected. It is a visual check.

You examine the material and compare it to the data you already have on it to ascertain where there has been any deterioration and whether there are any cracks or water leaks or anything that could affect that material in its location.

What paperwork is involved in an asbestos reinspection?

As part of the process, you will update your Material Risk Assessment which looks at how easily the asbestos material in question would release asbestos fibres if it was to be damaged. It also looks at the type of asbestos product, its condition, whether it is sealed or unsealed and takes into account what asbestos fibre has been identified in that material.

It is important to update the information which will follow in with your priority risk assessment and overall risk on how you manage that material.

Why does asbestos need to be reinspected?

Asbestos needs to be reinspected because it can change over time. Weather can lead to paint flaking off damaging the material. If the material has changed the risk assessment connected to it will also need to change in light of this. For example, it may go from a medium risk into a higher risk category. Alternatively, if the use of the area where the asbestos is has reduced it may move from a high or medium risk to a low risk.

How often should you have an asbestos reinspection?

The golden question is how often should reinspections be undertaken? From an industry standpoint, it has always been touted 12 months. Previous guidance documents stated reinspections should be done annually, however, when the new practice was bought out in 2012, it said: “Any identified or suspected ACM must be inspected and its condition assessed periodically.” However, if you are unsure 12 months is a good place to start as a minimum.

Bear in mind there will also be events or situations that take place that might make you rethink this. For example, maintenance works should trigger a review of the plan. Likewise, if you’ve got asbestos materials in high volume, high traffic, high occupancy areas, it would be sensible to increase the frequency of reinspections.

It all comes down to risk. For example, if you’ve got an asbestos material in a school corridor, maybe a panel on the fire door, re-inspecting just once a year is not practical. This would fall into a high risk category because of the occupancy, so you are probably looking at daily, or at least weekly, inspections of the material with proper reinspections every three to six months. On the other hand, if you have the same type of panel on the back of a door in an office corridor, the likelihood of that getting disturbed would be smaller because adults do not generally kick doors open. As a result, the reinspections would not need to be as frequent.

Who should carry out an asbestos reinspection?

Reinspections should be carried out by someone who is competent, knowledgeable and who has training, qualifications and experience.

There are no set qualifications, the closest one is a surveyor’s qualification but you do not have to go through that as you are not exactly surveying, you are looking at the material that has already been identified. You do need someone who has experience of asbestos and know what it is and what it looks like. They need to know what the materials look like when they change, when they start to peel and when there’s damage.

You can be trained to do a reinspection without having a formal qualification. For example, one of our asbestos consultants could come to your site and give one-to-one training to your property manager or caretaker so they understand what asbestos there is on site and what risks to look out for. You may want to do a reinspection with an asbestos consultant a couple of times to help you gain the experience. Alternatively, you may want to have your re-inspection audited by an asbestos consultant to ensure you are gaining the relevant experience and doing it right.

Once the reinspection is carried out you must ensure all your information is updated. On a reinspection, we take photos and update the report.

Who is liable for the work?

If you do the works yourself, or employ someone outside of the industry, you become the competent person and you take on liability for the works. If you hire a professional to give you that advice and provide you with that information, you have got their competence to rely on.

Insurance companies always remove asbestos from policies because when asbestos goes wrong, it costs a lot of money. Only asbestos specialists have it because that is what they do for a living.

Schools are a particular risk in relation to asbestos. Lots of schools rely on their site managers or caretakers to do inspections and they haven’t got asbestos knowledge in line with a competent asbestos surveyor or consultant. Consider the liability on the school if they get that wrong? You could potentially have thousands of children exposed to asbestos.

In summary

Reinspections are not expensive and take the liability away from you. Remember, the reinspection should be risk assessment based. Do not rely on the fact that industry says to do it annually – use this as a benchmark.

We’re a professional asbestos consultancy helping businesses deal with asbestos compliance using asbestos surveys, asbestos testing, and asbestos removal. 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 email mailto:info@acorn-as.com

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