On April 7th, the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) launched a national survey online, aimed to discover more about the level of general asbestos awareness and lack of understanding of both the risks and regulations involved amongst individuals and companies likely to come into daily contact with asbestos material.

The survey, entitled “The Great British Asbestos in Buildings Survey 2011”, comes at a time when more reports on asbestos removal mishandling and site check negligence around UK building and demolition sites seem to appear every other week!

UKAS currently certifies over 100 inspection bodies to carry out authorised asbestos surveys and the present survey questionnaire was promoted through a number of the UK’s leading trade associations and trade unions, membership organisations and industry institutions.

The survey includes questions asked on awareness levels of asbestos and its’ risks, opinions on asbestos presence in buildings, knowledge of Duty To Manage asbestos, extent of asbestos training, age range of buildings normally visited, and being aware if asbestos was disturbed when carrying out repairs.

To participate now in the survey, click : http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/greatbritishasbestossurvey2011

It is hoped that many individuals working within relevant occupations will be encouraged to take the survey. Ideally, this would include builders and renovators, demolition workers, building occupiers, dutyholders, clients and property managers of non-domestic buildings.

The hidden presence of asbestos in domestic dwellings, factory premises, school buildings and other workplaces built right up until the 1970s-80s and often beyond, is still a high risk health hazard. Almost entirely all of the asbestos is likely to be white chrysotile, found in asbestos insulating board (AIB), ceiling and floor tiles, cement plasterwork and surface structure infill. It is highly probable that it will be in an extremely fragile state of disintegration ( friable), and if disturbed in any way, will instantly release the deadly fibre dust.

Throughout most of the twentieth century, hundreds of thousands of workers employed in the construction, heavy engineering, manufacturing, ship building and the railways were exposed daily to the fatal asbestos fibre dust. Once breathed in, the fibres would remain within the linings of the lungs for up to 40 or 50 years before asbestosis symptoms appear.

The overwhelming majority of former employees in their senior years, would almost invariably be in rapid decline from advanced stages of the aggressive and incurable mesothelioma cancer and succumb within 6 to 18 months after confirmed diagnoses. Frequently, an asbestosis claim for mesothelioma compensation may not be satisfactorily settled within the patient’s remaining time.

Asbestos is still responsible for an estimated 4,000 deaths each year and is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The development of the present survey by HSE reflects concern over issues of risk from low level asbestos exposure and UKAS hope it will be repeated annually to measure improvements, or otherwise, within the relevant industries.