How do I choose the right asbestos surveying company (A Comprehensive Guide)
The fact that you are reading this indicates that you are probably already aware of the broad importance of having your property inspected – in other words, “surveyed” – for signs of asbestos.
Indeed, you might be especially anxious about the need to arrange an asbestos survey because of the legal need for it as set out in the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, or CAR 2012. These regulations make clear that if someone is a dutyholder for a given non-domestic property, they must take reasonable steps to determine whether asbestos exists on the premises.
In the event that you do discover, through the process of having an asbestos survey carried out on the site, that asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) are present, the information that you gain from the asbestos survey will enable you to take suitable and well-targeted action.
However, there are a lot of asbestos surveying companies out there, but they are not all equal in their reputability or the quality of their service. So, you are likely to appreciate receiving some advice on how you can select the right asbestos surveying business for your needs.
In this article, we will explore a range of key factors that will separate the most reputable asbestos surveying companies from the less suitable ones. This will help ensure you make the right choice of asbestos surveying company at the first attempt.
- 1 What should you check for when choosing an asbestos surveying company?
- 2 Considering all the above factors will help you choose the ideal asbestos surveying company
What should you check for when choosing an asbestos surveying company?
The following are some of the key things you ought to be looking for when you are comparing asbestos surveying companies:
Expertise and accreditation
Among the key things that you should be doing when you are considering a specific asbestos surveying company is verifying its expertise in asbestos surveys and management, as well as assessing the experience of its surveyors and consultants.
One thing that should certainly be a big focus for you, is whether the given company holds relevant accreditations, such as UKAS ISO 17020 accreditation.
ISO/IEC 17020:2012, to provide its full current name, is a standard that sets out requirements for the competence of bodies carrying out inspection, and for the impartiality and consistency of their inspection activities.
With ISO 17020 being a standard of direct relevance to surveying, if the surveying company that you are considering has this form of accreditation, this should give you considerable peace of mind.
Here at Oracle Solutions, for instance, we are UKAS accredited to ISO 17020 for surveying for asbestos in premises. UKAS, by the way, stands for ‘United Kingdom Accreditation Service’, which is the only national accreditation body, recognised by the UK Government, that can assess an asbestos surveying organisation against the international standard.
This is unlike the situation with other ISO standards, which asbestos surveying companies can get certified for by a range of external certification bodies, albeit to varying levels of quality.
Indeed, while we are on the subject of certification, you are also likely to be assured if the surveyors that you choose have been certified by reputable asbestos associations or organisations.
Range of services
There are several types of asbestos survey, depending on the exact situation and reason why an asbestos survey is required in the first place. So, if you are considering a particular asbestos surveying company, you will need to confirm whether they are able to offer the specific type, or types, of survey that you require for your premises.
There are two broad types of asbestos survey to be aware of: management surveys, and refurbishment/demolition surveys.
A management survey is the standard, non-intrusive type of asbestos survey that represents the bare minimum legal requirement for properties constructed prior to the year 2000 (bearing in mind that asbestos was banned in the UK towards the end of 1999). It covers all the given premises’ visible and accessible areas, and accounts for the usual day-to-day activities in the building.
A refurbishment or demolition survey, meanwhile, is the kind of asbestos survey that you will require if you are planning on upgrading, refurbishing, or demolishing the premises for which you are a dutyholder (presuming, again, that the given premises dates from before the year 2000). It involves much more intrusive methods than a management survey, but it only needs to target the areas of the premises that will be subject to demolition or refurbishment work.
Alongside the matter of whether the given asbestos surveying company offers the type of survey you need, it will also be necessary to carefully assess its capabilities in sampling, analysis, and risk assessment.
Another thing that you should be scrutinising about the asbestos surveying company you’re considering, is whether it provides additional services, such as asbestos management plans and consultancy.
As part of this consideration of the business’s all-round asbestos management support, you will need to evaluate its ability to offer guidance on compliance, policy development, and project oversight.
Reputation and track record
If you’re at the stage where everything that the company claims about itself seems to be encouraging, you should be taking the step of asking for feedback from previous clients regarding their own experiences with the company.
Don’t be afraid to request references from the asbestos surveying organisation itself; if the company is confident in doing this, that will be a good sign. Then, be sure to enquire directly to those past clients, so that you can learn from them about the quality of service they received.
Another key part of the process of researching a particular asbestos surveying company’s track record is – of course – looking at what has been said about that company online. You should be looking at the company’s all-round online presence, including client reviews and ratings, and assessing its reputation within the asbestos industry and among its peers.
Compliance with regulations
As we touched on at the top of this article, the need to ensure your own compliance with the current UK asbestos regulations is likely to be one of your biggest motivating factors in seeking out the services of asbestos surveying specialists.
So, you should certainly be taking the time to ensure the company that you choose has a thorough understanding of those regulations, including the ones that apply specifically to you and your premises. You should also be verifying the company’s ability to adhere to those regulations, including in the production of compliant reports.
In addition, we would urge you to enquire about the given company’s quality assurance processes and systems for data management. You will need to do your bit to ensure the organisation that you select to carry out your asbestos survey is capable of accurate and reliable reporting, documentation, and record-keeping practices.
Insurance and liability coverage
The insurance industry exists – and continues to thrive – in large part because even when the very best practices are put in place, no one can guarantee that nothing will go wrong.
So, when it comes to such extremely sensitive, specialised, and potentially dangerous work as asbestos surveying, you should definitely be confirming that the organisation that will undertake such work for you holds adequate professional indemnity insurance.
You should verify both the coverage amount and the validity of the company’s policy. Ideally, the asbestos surveying company that you choose should hold a minimum of £5 million in professional indemnity insurance; anything less is simply not enough for a company working with asbestos.
Alongside this, you should be making sure that the company has public liability insurance to protect against any potential damages or accidents.
Something else that you should be expecting from your favoured asbestos surveying company, is transparent pricing. So, we would advise you to request a detailed breakdown of the costs associated with the given firm’s surveying services, which will enable you to make sure there are no hidden charges or unexpected fees.
It isn’t just the headline price of the company’s surveying services that you should be looking at, but also the value for money that the quoted price represents. After all, a given price is only good or bad value for money relative to the company’s expertise, reputation, and quality of service.
One thing that we would strongly urge you to avoid, is making decisions solely on the basis of which asbestos surveying organisation offers the lowest price. This is because such factors as quality and compliance will also need to be prioritised.
Communication and customer service
What communication channels does the given asbestos surveying company maintain, and how responsive is the company to queries? The above processes, such as asking for references, will enable you to test that level of responsiveness. You should be assessing the organisation’s ability to answer your questions promptly, but also to fully address any concerns you have.
When you are looking at different asbestos surveying companies, you will need to seek out a firm that demonstrates genuine professionalism and a commitment to client satisfaction.
Does the company, for example, prioritise effective and clear communication with you at every stage of your engagement with them? If this is already becoming evident in your first points of contact with them, this will be a positive indicator of their suitability as an asbestos surveying specialist.
Considering all the above factors will help you choose the ideal asbestos surveying company
With our explanations above, we will have hopefully given you a well-rounded sense of the many different factors you will need to consider when you are seeking out – and comparing – different asbestos surveying companies.
Such elements as a given asbestos surveying organisation’s reputation, expertise, regulatory compliance, and customer service will all need to be thought about, when you are attempting to determine the most suitable company for your needs.
The good news is that by undertaking thorough research and practising due diligence, you can greatly help ensure you make the most informed, responsible, and right decision for the premises for which you are a dutyholder.
Have you been considering making Oracle Solutions your choice of asbestos surveying company? If so, it is a straightforward process to contact us and to request your free and fast asbestos quote; simply call our team today, or send us an email.
Written by Jess Scott
Jess Scott has been an all-round asbestos consultant since 1996. That’s nearly 3 decades of asbestos knowledge. He spends his time sharing that knowledge with the team at Oracle and with their clients. Jess's goal is, and always has been, to use my expertise in helping people to comply with the law. This legal compliance ultimately helps to protect everyone from the harmful effects of asbestos. Jess has acted as an asbestos expert witness in legal cases and is involved in many asbestos educational activities throughout the UK.