Vermiculite Insulation

What is vermiculate insulation, is it hazardous, and does it contain asbestos?

If you have discovered that your home is insulated with vermiculite, you are probably concerned about the potential dangers of vermiculite insulation in the UK.

If you are worried about the dangers with vermiculite insulation in the UK, it is important to know what vermiculite actually is and whether or not your property is at risk and what the best next steps are.

What is vermiculite?

Vermiculite is a mica-like mineral mined around the world and used in a variety of commercial and consumer products because it is fire-

Vermiculite insulation

Vermiculite, what is it?

resistant and has good insulation qualities. Similar to mica, vermiculite is a flaky natural material which expands when it is heated. It is used for many purposes including fire retardants such as steel boxings and coatings, as a fertiliser, in potting soil, and in home insulation.

What is vermiculite insulation?

Vermiculite is just one of many insulation products used in attic or loft insulation. Vermiculite insulation is a granule/pebble like pour-in, loose-fill product. Vermiculite loose fill insulation is exactly that, a loose fill insulation.

Where does vermiculite insulation come from?

There was a large vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana that at one point, made up for approximately 80% of the world’s vermiculite supply. What most didn’t know, however, was that all impure vermiculite from this mine held asbestos crystals. In fact, miners harvested impure vermiculite since 1881.

One chemical processing plant, W.R. Grace, knew about the vermiculite toxicity but reinforced their products and put their factory workers at risk for dangerous exposure to the mineral anyway.

A rebrand changed vermiculite from this mine to “Zonolite” on the market. Moreover, this new zonolite was sold for a long time until the Libby mine was finally shut down in 1990.During the 1920s and 1930s, when asbestos knowledge was practically non-existent, the Libby Mine in Montana, Canada, produced Zonolite® Attic Insulation – and possibly other brands which may have contained amphibole asbestos – to supply the majority of the world market in vermiculite-based insulation.

Hundreds of the Libby mine’s employees and residents of the town were diagnosed with mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that is known only to be caused by asbestos exposure and many of these residents were able to secure financial compensation for their families through litigation.

How common is vermiculite in the UK?

Within the UK and Europe, virtually all of what you read about vermiculite is focused on issues in the United States.

Is this something you need to worry about? Very little Libby vermiculite was exported to Europe. So the issues related to Libby vermiculite are much less relevant outside of the USA. Modern European vermiculite suppliers ensure that the products sold are properly tested, meet international standards and are safe to use.

Within the UK, we see many properties on a weekly basis with vermiculite insulation. This is often in both residential and commercial premises.

Is vermiculite toxic?

Vermiculite itself is safe to use; there is no evidence that any acute or chronic toxicity or carcinogenicity exists from long-term exposure to

Is vermiculite toxic?

vermiculite. However long-term exposure to vermiculite can

What are the health effects of vermiculite exposure?

Although many of the problems that have been reported with vermiculite insulation originate in America, there have been some similar dangers reported in the UK in line with silicosis a lung fibrosis caused by the inhalation of dust containing silica.

Mesothelioma incidence in America is also known to be high in commercial gardeners and other occupations which deal with large amounts of loose vermiculite. Note the appearance of the vermiculite.

Based on current information, there is no evidence that vermiculite currently being sold since the late 1990’s available for horticultural purposes (e.g. potting plants) is a health risk when used as directed.

Does vermiculite insulation contain asbestos?

Pure vermiculite should not contain asbestos. Today, most vermiculite is safe. However, that is not to say it cannot contain asbestos.

Not all vermiculite produced before 1990 contains amphibole asbestos fibres. However, to be safe and in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it is reasonable to assume that if your building has older vermiculite-based insulation, it may contain some asbestos.

In recent years, many steps have been taken to remove asbestos from buildings and commercial products, in an effort to reduce human exposure of asbestos and exposure of vermiculite, which can lead to asbestos related disease, notably asbestosis. Asbestos, however, is still a relevant hazard today, found in many different forms.

Asbestos still exists in hundreds of older products as well as in trace amounts in newly manufactured products such as vermiculite.

Vermiculite and asbestos……

These products can cause health risks if disturbed during maintenance, renovation or demolition. However, there is very low risk to your health if the insulation is sealed behind wallboards and floorboards, isolated in an attic, or otherwise kept from exposure to the interior environment.

Not all vermiculite produced before 1990 contains asbestos fibres. However, to be safe and in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it is reasonable to assume that if your building has older vermiculite-based insulation, it may contain some asbestos content.

Nevertheless, as with any dust, workers should take precautions and avoid long, high-level exposures to vermiculite and other materials that release dust.

Does my vermiculite insulation contain asbestos?

Vermiculite insulation beneath man made mineral insulation

Is there an easy way to visually tell? Unfortunately not, asbestos fibres in vermiculite are too small to be seen by the naked eye. Only a trained technician using a microscope can see asbestos fibres.

However, it is very simple to analyse vermiculite for asbestos contamination. Sample collection of vermiculite should be done by a professional. If you decide to remove vermiculite insulation from your attic, have it done by a professional who has the required equipment necessary to capture asbestos and vermiculite dust and debris fibres.

Do you need asbestos testing for vermiculite insulation within the UK, Sussex and London? Summit Environmental can help.

Vermiculite insulation removal.

First identify if asbestos content is present as this will define the removal method.

If asbestos isn’t present and you are keen to remove yourself, dust control measures should be used in preference to Personal Protective Equipment(PPE) where ever possible ensure you use correct Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) gloves and suits and appropriate tools to protect yourself from the dust generated by disturbing the insulation. We would always advise using a company with appropriate tools, training and experienced methods and equipment for asbestos removal even if asbestos isn’t present.

Had a survey and identified the vermiculite insulation contains asbestos, what should you do?

If asbestos content is present, the materials will need removal in line with the requirements for asbestos remediation. Depending on the fibre types contained within the vermiculite, the materials, friability and location will define the removal method. You should never attempt to remove it yourself, so calling in a professional company to help you is essential.

Final Thoughts

It should be stressed that not all vermiculite contains asbestos. Nevertheless, as with any dust, workers should take precautions and avoid long, high-level exposures.

Some products that were made with vermiculite contained asbestos up until the early 1990s. Vermiculite mines and products within the UK and throughout the world are now regularly tested for asbestos and are not supposed to sell products that contain no asbestos at all.

As well as the dangers Vermiculite insulation can potentially pose, it is also a less effective and efficient method of insulating a home than standard fibreglass; and as a vast majority of heat is lost through the ceilings and roof, with vermiculite insulation removal and replacement insulation, huge amounts could be saved on energy bills in the long run. As well as being a less effective means of insulation, due to its undesirable reputation, having vermiculite insulation may affect the value of the home. Removing this insulation for other types of modern insulation is advised.

Summit Environmental can undertake sampling to certify if vermiculite insulation and vermiculite products have asbestos contained. Testing of vermiculite for asbestos, should contain an appropriate assessment of materials and fibres contained. Testing of products should identify if asbestos is present to reduce the possibility of inadvertent uncontrolled exposure to the asbestos fibres and certify the materials as asbestos free.

For more information on vermiculite insulation or other asbestos containing materials contact us at [email protected]

Do you need vermiculite insulation testing in the UK? Summit Environmental can undertake sampling to certify the vermiculate insulation materials are asbestos free. Contact us on 0203 874 9530 or 01444 812 388.

2022 current press releases from the HSE (health and Safety Executive) relating to Asbestos

On 24 November 1999, the use of asbestos was banned in the UK. While the ban was the first step to safeguarding communities from the

Asbestos rock

effects of asbestos and getting justice for asbestos victims, unfortunately, the battle is still ongoing.

The following are updates on recent prosecutions relating to the state of the asbestos industry in 2022.

18th February 2022

Asbestos removal company fined for failing to protect workers

An asbestos management company director has been jailed after failures to protect workers from asbestos exposure during a major refurbishment project in Plymouth.

Asbestos the hidden killer 

In February 2017, concerns were raised by workers at Ensure Asbestos Management Limited who believed they were being put in danger whilst carrying out refurbishment work at a department store.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found irregularities in the asbestos surveys and clearance certificates, with some found to be fraudulent. Ensure Asbestos Management Limited had been contracted to carry out an asbestos survey, remove all identified asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) from the building and then carry out the initial strip-out of the building before it was refurbished. However, the company was found to have deliberately cut corners in managing the danger of asbestos exposure putting workers at risk.

  • Ensure Asbestos Management Limited of Station Road, Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £100,000 . Because the company is in liquidation, there is no prospect of a payment being made and so no order for costs was made.

Director of Ensure Asbestos Management Billy Hopwood of Swanstead, Basildon, Essex pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. He has been sentenced to 10 months imprisonment, immediate concurrent on each charge. He has also been disqualified as a director for five years

Contracts Manager at Ensure Asbestos Management Phillip Hopwood of Churchgate Street, Harlow, Essex pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1), 3(1) and 33(1)(m) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.  His sentencing was adjourned until a later date.

“Ensure Asbestos Management Limited – a previously licensed asbestos removal contractor – failed to work within the law despite having a wealth of knowledge on the risks associated with exposure to asbestos and the necessary training to have done so safely.  They deliberately falsified documents and cut corners.

25th January 2022

Builder prosecuted for exposing employees to asbestos during unsafe removal

Kieran Lynch has been prosecuted after his employees were exposed to asbestos while refurbishing domestic premises in Barnsdale Road, Reading.

Reading Magistrates’ Court heard how Mr Lynch, trading as Lynch and Co, was contracted to carry out a largescale refurbishment for his client who had recently purchased the property from their local council. Prior to the project commencing, the owner of the property informed Mr Lynch that the ceiling boards in the garage contained asbestos.

Mr Lynch instructed two employees, who had no experience in asbestos removal, to take down the boards with no protective measures in place. Once they had taken down the boards, they stored them inside the house for a further three months before they were moved into the front garden to be disposed of. Subsequent examination of these boards identified them as Asbestos Insulating Board (AIB) – a high risk product which requires an asbestos removal licence to remove.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Mr Lynch was made aware that asbestos was present in the property, and yet he failed to make adequate enquiries as to where the asbestos was, its type and the condition it was in, prior to carrying out the removal.  He also instructed his employees, who lacked the necessary competence, to carry out the removal with no control measures in place.

Mr Kieran Lynch of 9 Old Barn Close, Emmer Green, Reading pleaded guilty to breaching the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 Regulations 5 (1)(a), 8(1), 11 (1) and received a Community Order for a period of 12 months with a Rehabilitation Requirement of 25 days and Unpaid Work of 100 hours. Mr Lynch was also ordered to pay £5,000 in costs and a £95 victim surcharge.

“Refurbishment work, even in domestic premises, is liable to expose people to asbestos and adequate steps must be taken to find out if asbestos is present.  If so, appropriate measures must be taken to ensure people are not exposed to asbestos fibres.”

24th January 2022

Company sentenced after fatal fall through fragile asbestos roof

A company has been sentenced after an employee of a Powys construction company was fatally injured in Liverpool when he fell six metres through a roof whilst working on a replacement roof project.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that on 22 May 2017, roofer Marius Andrus was completing snagging work on a replacement roof. The worker had accessed a part of the old roof made of fragile asbestos cement sheets, which gave way. He fell through the sheets to the ground below sustaining fatal injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the area accessed did not have safety nets fitted and that the employer failed to take reasonably practicable measures to reduce the risk to those working on the roof.

AJM Services (Midlands) Ltd of Llanfihangel, Llanfyllin, Powys pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was fined £51,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,000.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Andy McGrory said: “This was a tragic incident, which resulted in a needless loss of life and could have easily been avoided by properly planning the work and ensuring appropriate safeguards were in place.

“Those in control of work at height have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working, which should include providing clear and comprehensive information for their workers and ensuring that they are adequately supervised.”

Owners of the building Pearsons Glass of Maddrell Street, Liverpool pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, section 3, at an earlier hearing and were sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court in February 2021. The company was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,656.

18th January 2022

Directors fined for unlicensed asbestos removal

The managing director and the director of a printing company, have been fined for safety breaches after organising the removal of asbestos insulation board by untrained personnel.

Asbestos the hidden killer

Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard how, between August 2016 and December 2016, Charles Dunn and Jeremy Mills, respectively the managing director and director of D&M Heritage Limited, consented to work taking place at the company’s premises which failed to use adequate measures to prevent the spread of asbestos.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company rented space in a warehouse at Red Doles Lane in Huddersfield and had been given notice to leave by the new owners. Prior to leaving, the company agreed to remove some free-standing cupboards. A licensed removal company, who had carried out work previously at the site, had told the directors of D&M Heritage Ltd that the rear of a cupboard was broken and was likely to be asbestos.

The cupboards comprised of doors made with asbestos insulation board (AIB) and the rear of the cupboards also contained AIB. The cupboards were broken up during removal, releasing asbestos fibres. Some pieces were placed in bags, others placed in a nearby skip.

Charles Dunn of Mill Lane, Mixenden, Halifax pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health & Safety at Work Act (due to Reg 11 of Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012) and a second charge of breaching Section 37 of the Health & Safety at Work Act (due to Reg 16 of Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012). He was fined £916 and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs.

Jeremy Mills of Occupation Road, Linley, Huddersfield pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health & Safety at Work Act (due to Reg 11 of Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012) and a second charge of breaching Section 37 of the Health & Safety at Work Act (due to Reg 16 of Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012). He was fined £1,600 and ordered to pay £10,000 in costs.

“Asbestos is a killer. Companies need to recognise the dangers of removing asbestos by themselves both to their employees and others. Asbestos removal should only be carried out by trained personnel who understand the risks and know how to control them.”

 

Summit Environmental 

The four recent cases show satisfactory asbestos refurbishment and asbestos demolition surveys are not being undertaken, licenced asbestos

Asbestos survey

Need an asbestos survey or asbestos removal

removal works are not being undertaken by licenced asbestos removal companies, works are being undertake without due care, attention, and planning. The outcome of this is people are being exposed to asbestos needlessly.

Asbestos refurbishment and demolition surveys provide accurate information on the location, amount, and condition of asbestos-containing materials within a property and are a legal requirement prior to starting refurbishment or demolition works.

Licensed asbestos removal contractors with appropriate training, knowledge and insurance are required to undertake asbestos removal works.

If you breech the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, prosecutions can lead to exposure to asbestos, death, and imprisonment. Need advice relating to the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, asbestos surveys, asbestos removal and asbestos management. Contact us at

 

Asbestos

Why do I need an asbestos survey when buying a commercial property?

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a heat-resistant, chemical resistant, strength binding naturally fibrous mineral that was commonly added to manufacture building materials. It was found to be a durable material with fire and heat resistant properties. That is why it works so well as a fire proofing & insulating material.

Any building constructed between the 1800’s and 1999 will likely have asbestos-containing materials within the property. However, during the 1970’s & 1980s, health experts determined that asbestos was responsible for negatively impact the health of anyone who is exposed to it.

The greatest exposure to asbestos occurs when asbestos-containing materials are damaged because this action releases fibres into the air which can be readily inhaled and cause severe health consequences. Some of the most significant health consequences include lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

What is an Asbestos Survey?Asbestos Surveys

Any man-made structure, commercial building, residential building, or house constructed prior to 1999 can pose a risk of asbestos to the occupants or workers that reside within them. UK Regulations require you to conduct asbestos surveys on buildings constructed prior to 1999. Asbestos surveys are required if you are occupying, buying, selling, or demolishing such a building. If there are tenants or people living inside the building, then asbestos surveys are also performed as a health and safety check.

The job of an asbestos surveyor is to inspect your building and identify potential asbestos-containing materials. The asbestos fibres themselves cannot always be identified directly because they are microscopic, however an asbestos surveyor is familiar with the types of building materials that might have asbestos in them, such as roofing materials, Wall panels, insulating materials and flooring materials.

Once the surveyor has located an asbestos containing material a small sample will be taken of each suspect material which will then be analysed at the laboratory for further in-depth analysis. The laboratory will identify the type or types of asbestos present with sample(s) a bulk certificate of analysis is produced detailing the laboratory results.

Asbestos survey types

We undertake four different types of asbestos survey in Kent, Sussex, Surrey London and nationally.

  • Asbestos Management Surveys (Previously known as a Type 2 survey) A Management Survey aims to ensure that: Nobody is harmed by the continuing presence of ACM in the premises or equipment; That the ACM remain in good condition; and That nobody disturbs it accidentally. More details below.
  • Asbestos Refurbishment Surveys (Previously known as a Type 3 survey) The asbestos refurbishment survey is required where the premises, or part of it, need upgrading, refurbishment or there are planned intrusive works. More details below.
  • Asbestos Demolition Surveys (Previously known as a Type 3 survey) The refurbishment / demolition survey is required where the premises, or part of it is due to be demolished. These surveys are fully intrusive to the fabric of the building. More details below.
  • Asbestos Re-inspection Surveys also known as an annual asbestos inspection. The re-inspection allows the duty holder to monitor and record the condition of any previously identified asbestos products within a building. Asbestos-containing materials are subject to potential damage and degradation, hence why annual inspections are recommended to ensure they remain in a safe state. More details below.

Asbestos Management Surveys

What are asbestos management surveys?

Asbestos Management Survey

Is an asbestos survey required and if so, what type of survey?

Management asbestos surveys are standard inspection surveys to comply with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 for all commercial and industrial property and for those buying or selling property. This type of inspection is non-intrusive but does include sampling of suspect materials which are then sent to the laboratory to report on whether asbestos is present and if so, what types of asbestos.

If you are a business whether leaseholder or freeholder this survey will identify what asbestos containing materials are in place within your demise, their condition and what your legal obligations are to comply with the regulations. If you have been asked to carry out an asbestos survey for management purposes and provide an asbestos register for insurance or compliance purposes, including visits from either HSE or Environmental Health this is the survey type which includes the information set out in Regulation 4 “Duty to Manage” All commercial & industrial property ( some residential properties are also covered) built prior to the year 2000 are included in the regulation, regardless of size.

Asbestos Refurbishment and Demolition Surveys

Asbestos refurbishment survey

Floor investigation in asbestos refurbishment survey

What is an R and D Survey?

The aim of this survey type is to survey the property in question for asbestos containing materials so as these can be managed safely or as is usually the case removed safely in line with the regulations before the strip-out and re-fit. All property types are covered regardless of size or class of use – residential, commercial, industrial, or mixed.

Asbestos refurbishment surveys and asbestos demotion surveys must be undertaken on properties which are due to be refurbished or demolished.

Professionals, occupiers, and management agents involved in minor and major fit-outs and strip-out will need to commission such a survey prior to beginning the works. As well as the requirements for this type of survey covered under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and HSG264, further stipulations and requirements are contained in the CDM Regulations 2015.

Refurbishment and Demolition (R and D Survey) asbestos surveys are highly intrusive, and damage will occur to elements of the property to inspect the fabric of the building, as such this type of survey can only usually be undertaken in a vacant property and one which is owned by the person or company commissioning the survey.

Asbestos Re-inspection Surveys

What is an asbestos re-inspection survey?

An asbestos re-inspection survey (also referred to as an annual asbestos re-inspection survey) is designed to allow the duty holder to monitor and record the condition of any previously identified asbestos products within a building.

Like any building material, asbestos-containing materials are also subject to potential damage and degradation. As an asbestos product degrades it can be more likely to become a hazard to health, therefore should be inspected at regular intervals to ensure its condition has not deteriorated.

Asbestos in Commercial Premises?

Asbestos Management

Asbestos management in commercial premises.

If you are the owner of a commercial property, or you are in the process of buying a commercial property, you may be the person legally responsible for managing any asbestos present at the property. Therefore, should you be considering selling a commercial property at some point in the future, you should have an asbestos survey conducted.

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 clearly sets out these responsibilities for any property that is non-domestic. Exposure to asbestos can be fatal, causing serious illnesses that can take decades to manifest and produce symptoms. Since asbestos was banned in construction in the UK in 1999 there is no need for concern in any commercial building constructed after this date.

It is important that you understand the location and potential danger of ACMs (Asbestos Containing Materials) if you own a commercial property, you are a tenant or manager of a building with responsibilities that include managing asbestos.

If you are planning to sell a commercial property, a recent asbestos survey and/or asbestos removal project completion pack, is more likely to highlight previous good asbestos management processes and strategy.

So why would you got get an asbestos survey prior to buying a commercial premises?  Those in control of buildings and

Asbestos insulation encapsulated and labelled and inspected annually.

planned works have a responsibility to manage the risks from asbestos in non-domestic premises. To achieve this the duty holder must ensure that a suitable and sufficient assessment is carried out as to whether asbestos is or is liable to be present in the premises. You can and will get prosecuted if you do not undertake a sufficient assessment to assess for asbestos or do not protect employees and visitors to a building from the risks of asbestos.

Your duty under the law is laid out in Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. You must protect anyone from exposure to the asbestos in your property. This would include completing all the following:

  • Find out if there is asbestos in the building, where it is, how much there is and its condition (undertake a survey)
  • Make a presumption that there may be asbestos in some materials if you are not sure (presume present until proved by a survey)
  • Keep up to date records on the state of the materials that contain asbestos or those that you presume contain asbestos (keep and maintain an asbestos register)
  • Complete a risk assessment on how likely it is that anyone could be exposed to asbestos fibres and prepare a plan about how you will manage the identified risks (implement an asbestos management plan, include how you are going to manage the risks)
  • Put the plan into action (this may include training, implementing who is responsible and working on a plan for remediation if required)
  • Review the plan and amend it if necessary (annual re-inspections, review the asbestos management plan and ensure the plan is working.
  • Talk to anyone who may need to work on the materials or agitate them and provide them with all the details they need to be safe (this includes communications with staff, contractors and building users)

If you need an asbestos management survey or asbestos refurbishment survey in Sussex, Surrey, Kent, and London, please contact us, we will be happy to discuss your requirements. Our asbestos survey reports contain material assessments, risk ratings for materials with recommendations on materials found including photographs and highlighted floor plans. This information can then be used by those involved in the refurbishment and or demolition works.

Do you need more information on an annual re-inspection or an need an asbestos management plan to comply with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012?? Contact us on [email protected] and

Summit Environmental

How can Summit Environmental help you?

Who are Summit Environmental?

Summit Environmental is a Sussex based consultancy, with offices in Sussex and London and specialise in protection of life, buildings, and the environment.

By working with us, we will help you make sense of the regulations, improve the safety performance of your business, and keep you compliant. Our aim is to provide excellent customer service that exceeds your expectations whilst providing cost-effective solutions.

What can Summit Environmental do for you?

Asbestos – surveys, testing and material removal. We undertake asbestos management surveys, asbestos refurbishment surveys, asbestos demolition or asbestos re-inspection surveys in East Sussex, West Sussex, Kent, Surrey and London. With testing of materials likely to contain asbestos. We undertake asbestos remediation and remediation management as and when you need it.

Legionella – Legionella Risk Assessments, temperature checks and schematics. We undertake legionella risk assessments, temperature checks, Legionella Control, Water Hygiene Services in Sussex, Surrey, Kent and London.

Fire – fire risk assessments and fire extinguishers, fire alarm checks and fire door surveys. Need a fire risk assessment in Kent, Surrey, Sussex and London, contact us.

Hazardous material sampling – Lead and anthrax testing with other hazardous materials such as PCBs or CFCs in blown foams up to contaminated land services in Sussex, Surrey, Kent, London

EPC’s – Domestic EPC’s in East and West Sussex, non-domestic EPC’s for commercial premises across Sussex, London and Kent, or need a retrofit assessments or green deal contact us.

Floor Plans – For sale or lease of properties to super prime properties to a one bed flat we can cover them all.

EWS1 and Combustibility – Testing and advice on cladding materials. Cladding materials can be Aluminium Composite Cladding, Expanded Polystyrene, GRP, Timber. We can test and provide remediation of hazardous cladding.

Training – Awareness training, online training, day tuition for all of the above.

 

Contact us on 0203 874 9530 or 01342 835 140
E. info@summitenvironmental.co.uk

Asbestos

Selling a commercial property, do you need an asbestos survey?

Asbestos in Commercial Premises

If you are the owner of a commercial property, or you are in the process of buying a commercial property, you may be the person legally responsible for managing any asbestos present at the property. Therefore, should you be considering selling a commercial property at some point in the future, you should have an asbestos survey conducted.

Asbestos Regulations relating to Commercial Premises

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 clearly sets out these responsibilities for any property that is non-domestic. Exposure to asbestos can be fatal, causing serious illnesses that can take decades to manifest and produce symptoms. Since asbestos was banned in construction in the UK in 1999 there is no need for concern in any commercial building constructed after this date.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a heat-resistant, chemical resistant, strength binding naturally fibrous mineral that was commonly added to manufacture building materials. It was found to be a durable material with fire and heat resistant properties. That is why it works so well as a fire proofing & insulating material.

Any building constructed between the 1800’s and 1999 will likely have asbestos-containing materials within the property. However, during the 1970’s & 1980s, health experts determined that asbestos was responsible for negatively impact the health of anyone who is exposed to it.

The greatest exposure to asbestos occurs when asbestos-containing materials are damaged because this action releases fibres into the air which can be readily inhaled and cause severe health consequences. Some of the most significant health consequences include lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

What is an asbestos survey?

Any man-made structure, commercial building, residential building, or house constructed between the 1850 and 1999 can still pose a risk to the occupants or workers who live or reside within them. UK Regulations require you to conduct asbestos surveys on buildings constructed within this time. Asbestos surveys are required if you are occupying, buying, selling, or demolishing commercial premises. If there are tenants or people living inside the building, then asbestos surveys are also performed as a health and safety check.

The job of an asbestos surveyor is to inspect your building and identify potential asbestos-containing materials. The asbestos fibres themselves cannot always be identified directly because they are microscopic, however an asbestos surveyor is familiar with the types of building materials that might have asbestos in them, such as roofing materials, Wall panels, insulating materials and flooring materials. When selecting an asbestos surveyor you should ensure the surveyor has experience of surveying commercial premises.

Once the surveyor has located an asbestos containing material a small sample will be taken of each suspect material which will then be analysed at the laboratory for further in-depth analysis. The laboratory will identify the type or types of asbestos present with sample(s) a bulk certificate of analysis is produced detailing the laboratory results.

Asbestos
Is an asbestos survey required and if so, what type of survey?

Asbestos survey types

Asbestos Management Surveys

What are asbestos management surveys?

Management asbestos surveys are standard inspection surveys to comply with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 for all commercial and industrial property and for those buying or selling property. This type of inspection is non-intrusive but does include sampling of suspect materials which are then sent to the laboratory to report on whether asbestos is present and if so, what types of asbestos.

If you are a business whether leaseholder or freeholder this survey will identify what asbestos containing materials are in place within your demise, their condition and what your legal obligations are to comply with the regulations.

If you have been asked to carry out an asbestos survey for management purposes and provide an asbestos register for insurance or compliance purposes, including visits from either HSE or Environmental Health this is the survey type which includes the information set out in Regulation 4 “Duty to Manage”. This applies to a building built prior to the year 2000.

Asbestos Refurbishment and Demolition Surveys

What is an R and D Survey?

The aim of this survey type is to survey the property in question for asbestos containing materials so as these can be managed safely or as is usually the case removed safely in line with the regulations before the strip-out and re-fit. All property types are covered regardless of size or class of use – residential, commercial, industrial, or mixed.

Asbestos refurbishment surveys and asbestos demotion surveys must be undertaken on properties which are due to be refurbished or demolished.

Professionals, occupiers, and management agents involved in minor and major fit-outs and strip-out will need to commission such a survey prior to beginning the works. As well as the requirements for this type of survey covered under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and HSG264, further stipulations and requirements are contained in the CDM Regulations 2015.

R and D asbestos surveys are highly intrusive, and damage will occur to elements of the property to inspect the fabric of the building. Therefore this type of survey can only usually be undertaken in a vacant property and one which is owned by the person or company commissioning the survey. 

Asbestos Re-inspection Survey

What is an asbestos re-inspection survey?

An asbestos re-inspection survey (also referred to as an annual asbestos re-inspection survey) is designed to allow the duty holder to monitor and record the condition of any previously identified asbestos products within a building.

Like any building material, asbestos-containing materials are also subject to potential damage and degradation. As an asbestos product degrades it can be more likely to become a hazard to health, therefore should be inspected at regular intervals to ensure its condition has not deteriorated.

When selling a commercial property?

Asbestos is often found in commercial premises prior to buying and selling. Therefore, should you be considering selling a commercial property at some point in the future, you should have an asbestos survey conducted.

It is important that you understand the location and potential danger of ACMs (Asbestos Containing Materials) if you own a commercial property, you are a tenant or manager of a building with responsibilities that include managing asbestos.

If you are planning to sell a commercial property, a recent asbestos survey and/or asbestos removal project, is more likely to highlight previous good asbestos management processes and strategy.

Summit Environmental and commercial asbestos surveys.

Our asbestos survey reports contain material assessment, risk rating for materials with recommendations on materials found including photographs and highlighted floor plans. This information can then be used by those involved in the refurbishment and or demolition works.

If you need an asbestos management survey or asbestos refurbishment survey in commercial premises in Sussex, Surrey, Kent, and London please contact us, we will be happy to discuss your requirements.

Tank Insulation in poor condition

“Asbestos In Commercial Premises, What You Need To Know”

Who is responsible for managing asbestos in a commercial property?

This is a question that crops up time and time again when granting leases. Tenants will usually insist on seeing an asbestos survey and landlords are keen to wash their hands of it (literally).

Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (Regulations) imposes a duty to manage asbestos risk in non-domestic premises. This requires the ‘duty holder’ to determine whether asbestos is present in a building or likely to be present, and to manage any asbestos that is or is likely to be present.

So what does this actually mean?

Firstly, a landlord does not have to arrange an asbestos survey in order to let a property. This is a common misconception. Many tenants seem to think that this is a mandatory requirement (like an EPC) but this is simply not the case. A landlord’s only requirement is to comply with its obligations as ‘duty holder’ under the Regulations. This is not a pre-requisite to letting the property to a tenant.

A landlord must keep in place its own records and a written plan to manage asbestos and they are required to provide information about the location and condition of the asbestos to anybody who is liable to disturb it. This would typically include tenants, contractors and employees. However, tenants who believe that they can force a landlord to carry out an asbestos survey are mistaken.

Secondly, a ‘duty holder’ is any person who has an obligation to maintain or repair a commercial premises or exercises some element of control over the whole or part of it or has a means of access to and from the premises. In broad terms, therefore, it captures anybody with an interest in the property (under a tenancy or not). This means that there can be more than one person at any one time who is a duty holder. In the typical landlord and tenant scenario, the landlord is the duty holder before the lease is granted, and both the landlord and tenant are duty holders after the lease is granted.

So, is the landlord ‘off the hook’ as soon as they grant a lease?

No, not quite. The landlord cannot shift the obligations of duty holder to a tenant, but as soon as the tenant signs the lease it will become a duty holder in its own right.

Where there is more than one duty holder, the contributions to be made by each party in complying with the Regulations are determined by the nature and extent of the maintenance and repair obligations owed by each party to the other. In other words, a carefully drafted lease can place most (if not all) of the obligations on to the tenant.

The situation is slightly different in a multi-let building where the responsibility for maintenance of the common parts, services, external fabric and main structure of the building will generally lie with the landlord. Here, the landlord will be required under the Regulations to arrange for asbestos surveys and for copies of asbestos registers to be produced for each tenant – although a properly drafted lease will ensure that these costs are recovered from the tenants under the service charge.

Finally, it is worth remembering that:

  1. ‘Managing’ asbestos does not necessarily mean removing it. The only requirement is to have an action plan and a system in place for managing the risk. In many cases the best decision may be to leave the asbestos in place because it is contained and ‘safe’.
  2. Even where the landlord has passed the responsibility on to the tenant, the landlord will still have to step in and carry out work in the event of the tenant’s default – so this is always something to monitor and keep on top of.

Asbestos management is definitely something to discuss and agree from the outset of any lease.

The Regulations apply to both landlords and tenants, so it is in everybody’s interest to reach a mutual understanding.

Need help, contact us to discuss your requirements on [email protected]

Asbestos survey

Is an asbestos survey required and if so, what type of survey?

What age is the property?

Buildings built after 2000, then Asbetsos Containing Materials (ACMs) should not have been used, as use of any asbestos banned in 1999.

 

Is there any existing previous asbestos information or register?

Check for previous reports, building registers or asbetsos remediation documents present. If reports are present, check any limitations and areas not accessed.

 

Are there comprehensive, reliable as-built records (health and safety files if post-2004)?

Record of inclusion or omission of ACMs in drawings and/or contract documents should be checked.

 

Is the building redundant and/or unoccupied?

Risk may be managed by preventing uncontrolled access, but emergency arrangements need to be considered. Building use can change, this is not a permanent solution and future use and planned change should be considered.

 

Have ACM’s been removed previously?

Care must be taken when assessing if asbetsos is present, regulations and guidance for asbetsos removal were not always as stringent as they are now. Ensure previous remediation works were carried out properly.  For example – where sprayed asbestos, protection of steelwork, has been used, there is the risk that overspray may remain in crevices, voids or even within the linings or fabric of the building.

 

Which asbetsos survey do I need?

To comply with the ‘Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012’, ensure that the correct asbestos survey is carried out to identify and enable management of the risk of any ACMs that are present. Asbetsos surveys are designed to locate and detail the extent and condition of any ACMs within a pre-2000 building. They will also outline any required remedial actions such as asbestos removal or encapsulation if required. The two types are;

Management Surveys

As a rule, asbestos management surveys and re-inspection surveys are non-intrusive, and are aimed at buildings under normal occupancy with minor maintenance works and access all accessible parts of a building.

Refurbishment / Demolition Surveys

Asbestos refurbishment surveys and/or asbestos demolition surveys need to be conducted prior to any work being undertaken to alter fabric, fixtures, fittings, or any major structural changes including demolition. These inspections are more intrusive and often include things like breaking through walls to access behind cladding, uprooting floor coverings and fixed ceilings.

 

We hope our brief guide above assists you as to whether an asbetsos survey is required or not. Next week we question the efficacy of asbetsos testing yourself with a home testing kit VS an appointment of asbetsos consultant.

Asbestos Management Survey

Two prosecutions by the HSE highlight what asbestos refurbishment and asbestos demolition surveys do and why they are needed.

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012

To comply with the ‘Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012’, you must make sure that the correct asbestos survey is carried out to identify and manage the risk of any ACMs that are present within a building. Therefore, if you own or manage buildings build pre 2000, you need an asbestos survey. Following the survey an asbestos register is to be created, a suitable risk assessment to be carried out and a written plan to manage the risks identified by the materials present.

Intrusive asbestos surveys

Asbestos Refurbishment Surveys or Asbestos Demolition Surveys are required where the premises, or part of it, need upgrading, refurbishment, or demolition.

A Refurbishment / Demolition Survey aims to ensure that:

  • Nobody will be harmed by work on Asbestos containing materials in the premises or equipment
  • Such work will be done by the right contractor in the right way

The asbestos refurbishment and demolition surveys are fully intrusive, it involves destructive inspection to the fabric of the building to locate and identify all ACM’s before any structural work begins at a stated location or on stated equipment at the premises.

Case 1

Newnham College Cambridge was fined for failings that exposed employees and subcontractors to asbestos during refurbishment of a flat owned by the college.

Failings identified that employees and subcontractors were exposed to asbestos during refurbishment of a flat owned by the college.

Failings identified were.

  • No asbestos refurbishment survey was carried out prior to insulation debris being found
  • One employee did not have asbestos awareness training
  • One employee who contaminated his gloves and clothing with loose asbestos debris, spread asbestos from his clothing outside the flat

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that there was inadequate planning and management of the refurbishment work.

On January 15, the College pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 5 and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,450.28.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Sandra Dias said: “Asbestos surveys need to be carried out prior to refurbishment works which disturbs the fabric of a building. Asbestos is still present in hidden locations in buildings and needs to be located before work starts that could potentially expose individuals.”

Case 2

Labform Ltd, a specialist laboratory design and installation company, was fined following the exposure to asbestos of workers, pupils, and teachers.

Failings identified were.

  • Subcontractors disturbed asbestos as they were removing a wall and channelling the floor.
  • Asbestos exposure to asbestos of workers, pupils, and teachers occurred
  • No asbestos survey either refurbishment or demolition asbestos survey was undertaken.

The company was fined £22,400 plus £11,700 costs for four breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

A HSE inspector commented “exposure to asbestos was a serious and well-known health risk, so it was essential that duty-holders took suitable and sufficient measures to prevent the disturbance, spread and exposure to asbestos.

Failing to take action to identify asbestos while planning work, and to ensure that any contractors who may disturb asbestos are aware of the location and type of asbestos present, and not taking appropriate measures to protect the health of others, is totally inexcusable”.

 

The two recent cases show satisfactory asbestos refurbishment and asbestos demolition surveys are not being undertaken.

Asbestos refurbishment and demolition surveys provide accurate information on the location, amount, and condition of asbestos-containing materials within a property and are a legal requirement prior to starting refurbishment or demolition works.

If you or someone you know are planning on undertaking a refurbishment or demolition project get them to contact Summit Environmental.

 

Summit Environmental – your partner in asbestos compliance. 

 [email protected] – 0203 874 9530

Asbestos management and compliance in schools.

Is your school compliant with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012?

A large number of schools and other public buildings contain asbestos – often in the fabric of the building. Its presence alone should not cause concern, provided it is managed properly. Many schools, built before 2000, will contain asbestos, of the 29,000 schools in Britain, more than 75% contain asbestos. School buildings may contain asbestos if any part of them was built before 2000.

Nurseries, schools, colleges and universities are not obliged to tell you if their premises contain asbestos. Do you know about the buildings your children, friends and families attend contains asbestos?

Asbestos what is the risk?

Asbestos that is in good condition and unlikely to be damaged or disturbed is not a significant risk to health. The Department for Education referred nearly 700 schools in England to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as they did not provide evidence that they were managing asbestos in line with regulatory requirements.

The most likely way asbestos containing materials (ACM’s) will create a risk in schools is when they are disturbed or damaged through maintenance, repair or construction activities. Disturbance could also occur by an accidental football or a thrown bag if asbestos is not managed satisfactorily within high footfall areas.

 

What to look out for?

Asbestos-containing materials within schools (ACM’s) include:

  • Asbestos lagging, thermal insulation on pipes and boilers
  • Sprayed asbestos used for thermal insulation to ceilings and void spaces
  • Asbestos-insulating board (AIB) used for fire protection, thermal insulation, wall and ceiling tiles and partitioning in classrooms
  • Floor coverings such as lino’s and floor tiles
  • Cement materials used for sheeting, roofing and guttering
  • Textured coating and finishes to walls and ceilings
  • Woven materials to electrics

 

Who is at risk?

School caretakers are a particular group at risk due to the nature of their work, eg drilling and fixing. Other contractors may be at risk while undertaking maintenance or installation work, while at the school. If asbestos is disturbed during such work, there is a risk that fibres will be released and create risk to others in the school. This fibre release increases the risk of exposure to asbetsos of anyone using the school buildings such as staff and pupils.

This means that teachers and pupils are unlikely to be at risk in the course of their normal activities in a school where the asbestos has been identified and a safe management strategy is in place.

 

Who is responsible for asbestos management in schools?

Anyone who has responsibility for the maintenance and/or repair of non-domestic premises, including schools, is a ‘dutyholder’ as defined in Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

For community schools, community special schools, voluntary-controlled schools, maintained nursery schools and pupil referral units, this could be the local authority. For academies, free schools, voluntary-aided and foundation schools, it will be the school governors. For independent schools, it may be the proprietor, governors or trustees.

 

The dutyholder’s responsibilities?

The duty holder must assess and manage the risks from asbestos to employees and others that may be likely to disturb asbetsos. They must also ensure that anyone who is likely to work on, or disturb, asbestos is provided with information about its location and condition. This is enabled by;

  • The ‘management survey’ this will identify if any asbestos-containing materials are present within the school.
  • Assess the risks associated with ACM’s in your school. Assess the material type, condition, location and likelihood of fibre release.
  • Devise an Asbestos Management Plan (AMP’s). The asbestos management plan identifies the risks posed by the asbestos present in the property and sets out procedures to control them. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 states that “all duty holders with known or presumed asbestos within their premises must have an effective written asbestos management plan in place.
  • Make sure staff, visitors and contractors know the risks and precautions they need to take.
  • Keep the management of asbestos in your school under review. This will include a review of the management plan, re-inspection surveys, training for staff, remediation of high risk items.

 

What can you do and how can Summit Environmental help?

Summit Environmental can provide:

  • Independent assessments
  • Asbestos management and refurbishment surveys
  • Asbestos re-inspection surveys
  • Asbestos exposure investigations
  • Asbestos management plans
  • Asbestos remediation management
  • Consultancy and advice

 

If you have concerns regarding asbestos in schools or other premises where asbestos may be present, Contact us at [email protected] for more advice or information.

 

Recent articles include

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/jul/04/700-english-schools-reported-over-asbestos-safety-concerns

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/03/asbestos-found-nearly-half-local-authority-run-primary-schools/

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/asbestos-danger-5000-primary-schools-17325850

Summit Environmental become CHAS Accredited

Summit Environmental recently applied for CHAS accreditation, today we received our certificate!!

For those not in construction, what exactly is CHAS accreditation?

CHAS Accreditation

CHAS stands for the:

  • Contractors
  • Health and Safety
  • Assessment
  • Scheme

What does CHAS do?

The purpose of CHAS is to help both buyers and suppliers in the assessment of health and safety competence.

How do you get CHAS?

CHAS undertook a rigorous vetting process in which our health and safety procedures and our track record for safe practice were examined.

Our Commitment?

Our CHAS accreditation confirms our commitment to Heath and safety by completing annual assessments showing we are maintaining the high levels of health and safety management required and affirms our dedication towards maintaining good health and safety standards.

For more information on our accreditation, asbestos or hazardous material testing, consultancy or risk management contact us at

http://www.summitenvironmental.co.uk

[email protected]