Things You Need to Know About Asbestos Refurbishment & Demolition Surveys (R&D surveys)

To many of those in the asbestos services industry and those outside it, there is common confusion regarding “Asbestos Refurbishment and Demolition Surveys” (also known as an R&D survey).

Ever since the introduction in 2010 (updated 2012) of the Health and Safety Executive guidance note “HSG264 Asbestos: The Survey Guide” the description, name and terminology of these surveys have been used differently by different people. This has created some misunderstandings and confusion across many industries. This is primarily when dealing with projects where refurbishment or demolition works are planned, and asbestos surveying services are needed.

Things You Need to Know About Asbestos Refurbishment & Demolition Surveys (R&D surveys) 1

Why the confusion with asbestos R&D surveys?

The main reason for the confusion is due to the asbestos survey guidance itself. The asbestos survey guidance has been written for the asbestos professional delivering asbestos surveys. The HSE on producing the guidance assumed that those reading the guidance and interpreting the asbestos surveys’ requirements would be experienced asbestos survey service providers.

The asbestos survey service industry is made up of asbestos professionals with varying degrees of experience and knowledge. In addition, the guidance is also referred to by non-asbestos professionals. This has resulted in varying interpretations of the message the asbestos survey guide was written to deliver.

When reading the guidance, the document refers to surveys and uses the phrase “Refurbishment and Demolition Surveys.” This R&D survey phrase is used multiple times throughout the survey guidance. If readout of context, it is easy to see why some have interpreted this as being singular and referring to one survey type. i.e., An asbestos refurbishment and demolition survey.

However, if read in context and correctly read, the document only uses the phrase “Refurbishment and Demolition Surveys,” referring to both types of survey as a singular phrase for ease of reference.

If read in detail, the document also refers to the phrase “Refurbishment or Demolition Survey,” which clearly denotes two different survey types.

Has the asbestos industry dealt with the R&D survey confusion?

Things You Need to Know About Asbestos Refurbishment & Demolition Surveys (R&D surveys) 2Yes. Shortly after the asbestos survey guide was released, this confusion became very apparent to the HSE and the asbestos survey accreditation organisation UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service). UKAS is the only recognised asbestos surveying accreditation in the UK.

During their accreditation activities, this misinterpretation of the asbestos survey guidance was frequently observed. After confirming with the HSE on the message being delivered by the asbestos survey guide, UKAS confirmed that asbestos refurbishment and asbestos demolition surveys were, in fact, two separate survey methodologies and unique to each other.

All organisations that hold the UK’s only asbestos surveying accreditation, UKAS, provide the survey types as individual bespoke asbestos surveys – an asbestos refurbishment survey or an asbestos demolition survey.

You will find that it is only non-accredited asbestos survey providers continue to name a finished document with the all-encompassing phrase “Asbestos Refurbishment and Demolition Survey” (R&D Survey). What they are doing is not giving clarity to the customer. By naming the asbestos survey in this way, the customer does not know if the document refers to an asbestos refurbishment survey or an asbestos demolition survey.

Why does the confusion with R&D asbestos surveys continue?

The misuse of the asbestos survey titles continues and is widespread amongst non-accredited organisations. As these non-accredited organisations cannot use the correct terminology by an official accreditation, they continue to do what best suits their organisational needs, ignoring the guidance and what is considered best practice. As such, the confusion for customers and other industry service providers continues.

Additionally, due to this confusion, when researching for an asbestos survey service provider, customers will use the incorrect terminology of “Asbestos Refurbishment and Demolition Survey” (R&D Survey).

To ensure ongoing sales, many accredited asbestos survey providers will advertise the same incorrect description of the asbestos surveys in a hope to attract new customers and then be able to provide the correct information once the customer has contacted them. Therefore, the confusion for asbestos refurbishment surveys and asbestos demolition surveys continues.

With R&D surveys, is there any other confusion?

Yes. In addition to the misinterpretation of asbestos survey descriptions, each survey’s type of works has also been an area of confusion. As stated, the asbestos survey guide was produced for asbestos professionals delivering asbestos survey services. However, many within the refurbishment, construction and demolition service industry read the asbestos survey guidance to better understand what they are procuring.

The challenge with this is that the work types that the survey guidance refers to are descriptively different to those used in mainstream refurbishment and demolition services.

For example, within the refurbishment and demolition industry, if a building was being worked on as part of a project that involved removing all internal walls to a particular floor. This would be classed as demolition works. E.g., all the walls on the whole floor are to be demolished. As such, those from this industry look at this wording and assume that an asbestos demolition survey would be required. This is not the case.

What works do asbestos R&D surveys relate to?

Things You Need to Know About Asbestos Refurbishment & Demolition Surveys (R&D surveys) 3The correct interpretation of the asbestos survey guidance for which a survey must be carried out for which type of work is as follows:

Asbestos Demolition Survey:

To be used where demolition is to be carried out. Demolition in the asbestos survey guide refers to a project where a whole building or structure is to be fully demolished. Anything less than this and the asbestos survey guide refers to refurbishment or building works.

Asbestos Refurbishment Survey:

To be used where any building or refurbishment work is carried out that does not involve the complete demolition of the building or structure in full.

Why does there need to be two separate surveys for R&D?

The surveys need to be different so that the surveyor and the customer understand the scope of works that the survey covers. This ensures that all areas where asbestos must be identified during the asbestos survey are surveyed correctly and accurately.

The main difference is that partial removal of the building or refurbishment work must have a detailed scope of works to base the asbestos survey. This would limit the survey to the exact areas that are being worked on and ensure the survey is intrusive enough to locate any potential asbestos containing materials without damaging the property with invasive survey techniques beyond that which is required.

A refurbishment survey cannot be undertaken correctly without a scope of proposed work. However, a demolition survey is where the complete structure is to be fully demolished. This is the scope of works and is a straightforward scope to follow for the asbestos survey. It would involve fully intrusive and destructive survey techniques to all accessible areas of the building. This is obviously not what a customer would want for only a partial scope. Hence the two very different asbestos survey names and approaches.

As with the correct description for an asbestos refurbishment survey and an asbestos demolition survey, these differences between the surveys and the required scope are agreed upon and form part of the UKAS asbestos surveying accreditation scheme.

All accredited asbestos survey providers will be utilising this correct terminology and scope of works detail, which is the correct interpretation as the HSE were aiming for and have subsequently confirmed with UKAS.

Any organisation not using the correct asbestos survey terminology or scope of works detail as above cannot hold the UKAS asbestos surveying accreditation.

How can Oracle help with my asbestos refurbishment or demolition surveys?

Oracle Solutions are fully accredited by UKAS for all asbestos surveying including asbestos refurbishment surveys and asbestos demolition surveys. Oracle provides a full asbestos service which is delivered across the whole of the UK.

In addition to our asbestos survey services Oracle also provide the following services:

For more information or to book an asbestos refurbishment or demolition survey, contact a member of the Oracle team now or call 0844 800 0801.