Asbestos reporting for dental practices

Asbestos has been prevalent in society for 4,000 years but it is only in the last 40 years or so that public health concerns arose – leading to various legislation and regulations for its management and treatment. PFM Dental’s commercial property specialist, Adrian Tattersley, summarises the requirements for an asbestos risk assessment.

Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, a non-domestic property owner or tenant is under a legal duty to manage asbestos. This duty extends to first assessing the risk to exposure and second to producing an asbestos management plan.

As a property owner or tenant your first task is to ensure that a ‘suitable and sufficient assessment’ is carried out to establish if asbestos is, or may be, present in the property. This initial assessment doesn’t have to be a full asbestos survey prepared by professional asbestos survey experts (especially if there is no cause to suspect asbestos is not in the property) – property owners and tenants can make their own assessment by following established guidelines. This is normally sufficient, especially for smaller commercial premises such as dental surgeries, though it is possible a prospective buyer will not accept a homemade assessment because you are not an asbestos expert – you may still be asked to obtain a detailed, professionally prepared asbestos survey.

In doing your assessment you need only take such steps as are reasonable in the circumstances; take into account the age of the property, any existing building plans and other relevant information, such as historic additions and alterations to the property.

Creating your own assessment includes:
• Creating a plan of your building
• Walking around and identify what contains (or might contain) asbestos
• Noting down what might contain asbestos and, if present, how much and its condition
• Noting areas not accessible for inspection e.g. a roof void
• Noting the outcomes in a register then dating and signing it

If no asbestos is detected, then there is no need to consider the regulations further, other than keeping the assessment. If, however, asbestos is detected or if there is reasonable prospect of asbestos being present then it is best to seek expert help.
Any assessment made, whether it is your own or that of an expert, must be reviewed at least once a year and reviewed whenever work is done to the property.

Further information on asbestos assessments and management plans, including checklists, and a template (Word) asbestos register is available on the Health and Safety Executive website http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/index.htm

Martyn Bradshaw

Martyn Bradshaw is a Director of PFM Dental and heads up the Sales and Valuations department. Martyn has been undertaking valuations, sales of dental practice, practice finance and business advice to dentists since 2004 when he joined PFM Dental.