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Do I really NEED a whole building asbestos survey?!

by Brian Jones
Thu, Jun 3rd 2021 02:00 pm

Most building owners are aware that an asbestos inspection is required in almost every circumstance in NYS prior to renovations or demolition. But what about buildings that have no renovations planned in the near future? Employee/occupancy safety, facilities management, and general maintenance—these are just three reasons as to why having a whole building survey conducted is advisable.

A whole building survey entails having all suspect asbestos containing building materials collected and analyzed for asbestos content.  The survey reports all materials identified as asbestos-containing, where the materials are located, the quantity of the material in each space, the condition of materials, and the potential for damage or further damage.  While this survey is not required for a business or building owner to have, there are many benefits to having a survey performed.

Safety should always be a priority, no matter your type of organization.  Contracting with a professional asbestos consultant to prepare a survey and an operations and maintenance plan for your building will help protect your employees and any occupants of your building.  By having all your asbestos materials identified you can take precautions to avoid the asbestos materials from being disturbed. 

Best practices like labeling materials as asbestos help manage the risk of possible exposure.  If you have an asbestos material that you know has a high risk of being damaged, you can hire a licensed asbestos professional to remove the material, getting in front of the issue before it becomes a problem.  Without having a survey, you may never know the potential asbestos risks in your building. 

Should a material become damaged, having a survey will help determine if there is an immediate problem by knowing if the material is asbestos or not.  Knowing where and what asbestos materials you have in your building will help build towards a safe work environment.

All buildings require general maintenance to keep things running smooth and to maintain a clean working environment.  The facilities management personnel are often tasked with ensuring that a building is properly maintained for the health and safety of the building occupants.

We know that asbestos can be in a plethora of different building materials.  There are a few materials like 9”x9” floor tile, pipe insulation, or cementitious panels that can be assumed to contain asbestos based on visual observation, but most asbestos-containing materials cannot be visually identified as asbestos-containing and require laboratory analysis to determine asbestos content.  Perhaps a sink needs to be replaced and the plumber does not realize that the undercoating on the sink is asbestos.  Maybe a roof leak damaged ceiling tiles that the maintenance staff is charged with replacing.  Staff may not realize that the damaged tiles they are sweeping into the garbage are asbestos-containing. 

A review of the survey prior to maintenance or repairs would help determine if a laborer can fix it or because the material is asbestos, or if a certified asbestos professional needs to perform the work required.  Even an activity like hanging things on a gypsum wall could disturb asbestos if personnel is unaware that the joint compound is asbestos-containing.  In all these cases, without a survey, general maintenance could cause a disturbance that would cost significant money to clean up and possibly expose occupants to asbestos fibers.  Having a survey would help mitigate these situations from occuring.

Asbestos should always be considered when occupying a building. Sienna’s knowledgeable staff can provide whole building surveys identifying the location of asbestos, design the removal plan, and monitor the project during and after abatement.  Let our experienced team help map and plan your project to maximize the safety of the buildings occupants and optimize facilities and general management.