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Survey Safe is an independent consulting firm

offering comprehensive asbestos surveying

solutions to domestic and industrial clients.

You can be assured that you will be offered

the best possible advice at competitive rates.

Asbestos Cement Roofs and Solar Panel Installation

Solar panels are becoming more popular as advances in technology are driving the efficiency of the 'silicon cell' to generate power. Industrial solar power production is now reality given the Government's grants on 'feed in' tariffs. There are many sites in the UK that are now applying for Solar planning permission to generate excess of 50Kw, using all available roof space. This is an opportunity for companies to reduce their carbon emissions and make good returns on their investment. Landlords see the potential to utilise roof space to generate income, however not all roofs are suitable. There are many buildings that have asbestos cement roof sheets where planning permission has been given to install solar panels.

Planning permission does not take into account the ongoing work with asbestos cement e.g. cleaning, painting, repair or removal of asbestos cement panels. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 (CAR) applies to all work activities involving asbestos-containing materials. This duty applies to the employer and self-employed to protect anyone who may be affected by the works, which causes exposure or is liable to expose asbestos dust to atmosphere.

Survey Safe™ has been approached to assess the risk of asbestos when installing Solar Panels on an Asbestos Cement roofs. There are three categories to consider:

  1. Asbestos Regulations
  2. Maintenance of Asbestos
  3. Life expectancy of asbestos containing materials

A due diligence study should be undertaken at an early stage to assess the risk of asbestos containing materials, by referring to an existing Management Survey and/or Plan, prior to carrying out an Asbestos Refurbishment Survey. This will identify the long term liability and cost of managing the asbestos cement roof, before investing in Solar.

Regulations

The new Regulations on Asbestos Materials define the control limit as the point at which a project is or is not on notified to the HSE if it is likely to be exceeded.

Asbestos cement was not previously a product that needed to be notified, but now this is dependent on the size and nature of the works being carried out. Specifics include:

  • Garage or shed clad in asbestos cement will still be exempt from the notification procedure.
  • However, warehouses, depots, barns and hangers will fall into the category that requires a desktop study of the works to be done, defining the likely hood of asbestos dust being released before a decision is made on whether it is a notified project.

Installing a 50Kw Solar system requires scaffolding and safety protection systems in place to prevent accidents on fragile roofs. This work will need to be done by a licenced scaffolding company that additionally has an asbestos licence (issued by the HSE), as roof workers may be required to work with materials containing asbestos. This can consist of:

  • Asbestos cement sheets/asbestos roof tiles;
  • Asbestos insulation board - within roof linings and linings to soffits;
  • Sprayed asbestos on structural roof beams and applied coatings to the underside of asbestos cement panels; and
  • Old asbestos pipe insulation within the roof spaces.

Maintenance of Asbestos and Solar Panels

Maintenance is usually required on every building, the older the building the greater the work. Most of the old warehouses are of timber construction and presents an additional risk as timber battens deteriorate with age. Coupled with an asbestos cement roof, a condition survey report will be a good investment to assess the maintenance and access requirements over the 25years plus, the live expectance of the Solar Panels.

Survey Safe™'s expertise is in surveying for asbestos, assessing it's condition and making recommendations on how to manage asbestos containing materials.

The asbestos cement roof and its condition will be critical to the build and future use of the premises. The roof will need to be inspected regularly as part of regulation 4 using an Asbestos Management Survey to ensure compliance. Dependant on the buildings use the underside of the asbestos cement may be sealed to protect workers within, or ensure a clean working environment. This can also apply to the external surface of the roof to protect maintenance staff when safely accessing the Solar panels. Encapsulation will add to maintain its strength for the next 25 years plus. The older the cement roof becomes the more friable the material. In some cases when the unsealed cement is well weathered it can be as friable as asbestos insulation board. Encapsulation and future maintenance will ensure the roof will last the term required. Consideration must be given on how to safely remove a cement panel if damaged in relation to the fixings of the solar panels.

It is best to avoid drilling into the asbestos roof sheets, if required keep it to a bare minimum. This together with a detailed condition assessment, maintenance schedule and method statement will be sufficient to work safely and establish if the works are to be notified /submitted to the HSE. This may require the assistance of a licensed asbestos contractor as part of the works programme.

References

Work with material containing asbestos. Control of Asbestos Regaulations 2006. ACoP L143 HSE Books 2006 ISBN 978 0 7176 6223 A comprehensive guide to managing asbestos in premises HSG227 HSE Books 2002 ISBN 978 0 7176 2381 5

Further Information

If you would like to know more or are interested in a quote we would be happy to help. Phone us on 07730 446 224, email us at info@survey-safe.com or fill in our enquiry form and we will be in touch as soon as possible.

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Registered Office: Wagstaffs, Richmond House, Walkern Road, Stevenage, Herts SG1 3QP

Survey Safe® :: 07730 446 224

Survey Safe®
07730 446 224