We have a resource here with an overview of understanding asbestos what asbestos is all about at properties, right from what it is to how to narrow down whether it’s applicable for your own situation.
It’s one of those subjects that can be either far worse or far easier than what you first think; sometimes there are real dangers to be aware of, other times people are panicking over something that’s under control.
When you’re managing property, you then need to deal with the nitty-gritty issues and not just the theory. Getting hold of the relevant asbestos survey is only the first thing step; knowing what needs checking and doing afterwards is another.
Therefore here are five key practicalities to be aware of, including a handy summary sheet to make sure that everyone is aware of this:
1. Going Further Than the Survey
Having a survey is only the first part of the process. Some will be more ‘intrusive’ than others, and it may be that you need to look at a further in-depth one for demolition or refurbishment purposes.
Whatever one you have, when it’s the correct one, it will still look very technical and lengthy. Hence the importance of the Asbestos Management Plan as a way to not only summarise the survey, but help state what needs doing.
It’s this Asbestos Management Plan (AMP) that counts. People may be be requesting the formal survey, whereas this AMP is the real king-pin.
So get hold of this and understand it. If needs be, get the original assessor to talk you through it and see what it actually means, and then what is needed from it.
Practically this might be a hard or digital copy, and also clarify when it was last updated and if any action points and changes since then have been noted.
2. Communicating Issues to Everyone
You need to basically then make sure all the right people are then aware of the asbestos results and issues. Often these are actual contractors who may be ‘touching’ the building, but other parties as well for example tenants of certain areas and even in-house employees and people involved with the property interest.
One really simple way to then show this is a summary tick sheet listing all these people as having not only seen and read the asbestos documentation, but also understood what it means for them. This could be more ad-hoc and use individual emails or records, but it’s handy to have all in one place.
You can download a sample one here to get going with. The main pieces of information you’ll see on here are:
• The date of when they acknowledged this.
• The name, of course, of the person, along with the company they represent and further contact details.
• A tick-box that the AMP or other main documents have been seen and understood.
• Any other general comments.
• Maybe a general disclaimer statement at the bottom summarising what this all means, for example that they have read and understood the documents, and that no ACM (Asbestos Containing Material) should be therefore disturbed unless by an approved contractor or person with suitable training and, that they have completed their own separate training. To also refer to additional information if more serious refurbishment or demolition works are needed.
3. Keeping Under Regular Review
You can, and yet you can’t, just leave a relevant asbestos survey or management plan on your shelf and just leave it there. ItThis needs to be regularly reviewed, and that will effect just how much dust it collects on the shelf.
Well in one sense it should not be be collecting any dust, with being viewable, to say, contractors and other relevant parties like risk assessors on a continuous basis.
But the trick is to review on a regularly basis, ideally every 12 to 24 months, and check whether anything’s changed. The good news is that it may not have, with no building works done or planned, and so no changes.
But make sure this is a proper review, not just a whizz through the paperwork. Ideally consult with others that have been involved, and actually go around and visually inspect the identified asbestos areas to identify any signs of tampering.
The good news, however, is that if there are no changes, then you’re probably not needing to re-invent the wheel and have a whole new survey or management plan done. Just a simple record review, and proposed re-review again in the future.
4. Carefully Identifying the Asbestos
This may sound very simple and straight forward, but easily missed in the frenzy of just getting the right asbestos documentation; . And that’s clearly knowing where the asbestos actually is in the property.
Often it boils down to just a few prone areas, maybe a structural part above a ceiling, or something as simple as old vinyl floor tiles. But get these clearly understood, as this will help avoid any confusion and panic later on if you can just show what the common-sense end-result is.
You may need to then take measures to formally note and communicate this, for example stickers near any material warning that it contains asbestos.
And just watch out for noting what it doesn’t as well as does involve. So, maybe the original survey couldn’t access all areas and therefore has had to make assumptions, fortunately from this perspective often assuming the worst if no access was possible.
5. Making Sure Contractors Behave
When you’re carrying out works at a property, you must take account of the AMP and asbestos-requirements. Whether this is an external contractor, or direct by yourselves or someone else, it’s all included.
It’s best to think of this in two stages. The first is just checking whether any proposed works at the property will effect or rather disturb any asbestos.
The big jobs like a whole new roof covering on a asbestos-slab will of course be relevant, but even the simplest of handyman jobs like placing down new floor tiles or painting over asbestos textured-coatings could still be just as applicable.
The second stage is then the ‘contractor’ to correctly dealing with the asbestos. If serious stuff, they may need to be licensed for this full -removal, or even if just a straight forward issue, they should have relevant training in asbestos awareness.
If smaller scale, then be clear with the original risk assessor just what exactly is okay to do. If you know the issues at hand, chat through with them, and go through any potential works that may affect these and what measure the contractors need to have in place.
Arranging the Right Asbestos Actions
As you face the daunting questions of how to actually treat and manage asbestos issues at a property after learning the basics, these above five practical pointers will help head you in the right direction.
Whether you’re a property owner or occupier needing to process them, or an advisor needing to manage them. And whether it’s day-to-day management, or it’s all come to a head in a property transaction with people all screaming for the right ‘asbestos survey’, .
Make sure you’re ahead of the game and on top of it; after all this is a very real and serious issues, and with some careful planning you can soon bottom it out.
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