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Sourcing professional advice and services on asbestos issues

Asbestos analysis and measurement

Analysing samples of suspected asbestos-containing materials

The only way to confirm definitively if a suspect material does contain asbestos fibres is to analyse a representative sample of that material.
Analysis of asbestos samples is a skilled and specialist task and trained and competent analysts in analytical laboratories must be used.
Anyone commissioning analysis by an analyst/laboratory must ensure they are accredited to International Standard ISO/IEC 17025. (Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012). In GB the only such accreditation recognised by the HSE is that provided by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).

Organisations accredited by UKAS for asbestos analysis will display the following logo:

UKAS accredited analysts are listed as Testing laboratories on its website.

Taking the sample may generate many free fibres in higher-risk materials so it is recommended that the person sampling is fully trained and competent, such as an analyst from a laboratory, or a competent asbestos surveyor.  This will also help ensure that the sample is fully representative of the material in question and is suitable for analysis.

Measurement of the concentration of asbestos fibres in air (air monitoring)

Only an analyst working for a UKAS accredited analytical laboratory may be used. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 requires anyone commissioning measurement of airborne asbestos fibre concentrations by an analytical laboratory to ensure they are accredited to International Standard ISO/IEC 17025. In GB the only accreditation recognised by the HSE is that provided by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).

Organisations accredited by UKAS for asbestos analysis will display the following logo:

UKAS accredited analysts are listed as Testing laboratories on its website.

Asbestos surveying

To meet the requirements of the ‘duty to manage asbestos’ under regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 the services of an asbestos surveyor may be used to identify the location and type of asbestos-containing materials in  premises.
If you hire a survey provider, you should satisfy yourself that they:

  • can provide evidence of suitable competence and training;
  • can demonstrate independence and impartiality;
  • have effective management and quality systems in place;
  • carry out the work in accordance with recognised guidance (e.g. HSG264 “Asbestos: The Survey Guide”).

While there is no legal requirement for asbestos surveyors to be accredited, HSE strongly recommends using surveyors accredited to standard BS EN ISO/IEC 17020.

In GB the only accreditation recognised by the HSE is that provided by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). Organisations accredited by UKAS for asbestos surveying will display the following logo.

UKAS accredited survey providers are listed as Inspection Bodies on its website.

If an accredited survey organisation is not used, reasonable enquiries should be made to ensure that the surveyor used is competent (e.g. details of qualification, copies of written procedures, references to evidence of other similar work recently undertaken).
Clients should fully instruct and work on the specification with the surveying organisation to ensure they obtain a survey report which meets their needs and expectations and adequately covers all appropriate areas.

Accreditation

Accreditation demonstrates the technical competence and integrity of organisations offering testing, inspection, calibration, verification and certification services.

EU Regulation No 765/2008 and the UK Accreditations Regulations 2009 require that accreditation is performed by the National Accreditation Body. Whatever terms The UK leaves the EU on, the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) will continue to be recognised by the UK Government as the sole National Accreditation Body for the UK.  This means that where organisations are required to be accredited for regulatory purposes this must be done by UKAS.  In addition, it is also UK Government policy to recommend the use of UKAS accredited conformity assessment services whenever this is an option.
Accreditation by UKAS includes:

  • The accreditation to the International Standard ISO/IEC 17025 of laboratories carrying out tests and/or calibrations, including sampling; and
  • The accreditation of inspection bodies to ISO/IEC 17020

In line with Government policy, HSE only recognises UKAS accreditation of asbestos analysts and surveyors for these purposes.

HSE has looked in detail at the practices of both surveyors and asbestos analysts in recent years and in the case of analysts has informed the sector of the results in the past so it is expected that the recommendations will have been actioned by laboratories some time ago. The report is now made more widely accessible online.

Updated 2019-11-28