Identification Surveys

Hazardous building materials, and particularly asbestos, have been used extensively by industry and may be encountered in buildings, ships and other structures constructed before the 1980′s. OHS legislation requires building owners and occupiers to identify and control the hazardous building materials in their workplace. The identification survey is the first step in the hazardous building materials risk management process. The identification survey is a visual inspection and sampling process. This requires a thorough inspection of the building and the collection of representative samples of material suspected to contain hazardous material. These samples are then tested in the laboratory to determine whether they contain asbestos, lead, etc.

Survey Protocol

A Survey Protocol is prepared for each project. The Protocol defines the following: - Purpose for the survey and hazardous building materials to be investigated - Survey and reporting limitations - Sampling protocols - Review of available documentation and drawings - Access to the site (e.g. security, height restricted access, concealed service shafts, etc.) - The nature of the building’s structural, mechanical, electrical, fire isolation and roofing systems - Site inspection and sample collection - Analytical processes - Reporting and deliverables

Purpose of the Identification Survey

Hazardous building materials identification surveys are very much project specific. It is important to establish the purpose of the survey and define how it will be used. For example, a limited survey conducted: (i) as part of a pre-purchase inspection (to determine the general presence/absence of hazardous materials); or (ii) for the purpose of preparing a qualitative risk assessment, will not be as comprehensive as that conducted for the purpose of renovation or demolition.

Survey and Reporting Limitations

The identification survey is not an absolute process and it is possible that not all the hazardous building materials will be identified during the survey. Failures to identify all hazardous building materials may arise when access precludes inspection or when hazardous materials are covered by other materials and therefore hidden from view.

Identification Survey Report and Register

The structure of a Hazardous Materials Survey Report is determined in conjunction with the Principal. Generally, identification survey reports outline the survey protocol (inspection, sampling and analytical methodologies) survey and reporting limitations, brief description of the structure(s) inspected and the Hazardous Materials Register.
The Hazardous Materials Register details the locations, extent, type, and condition of hazardous materials identified during the inspection. Reports are supplemented with relevant site drawings (where available) and photographs to assist with recording the locations of the Hazardous Building Materials identified in the survey.


To ensure hazardous materials identification surveys are thorough, all surveys are conducted by trained and experienced personnel. All our inspectors have tertiary or trade qualifications in building and construction, engineering or science. Furthermore, our inspectors participate in our in-house training and mentoring programme and have a minimum of two years experience before conducting a survey unsupervised. We can assist with conducting identification surveys for a wide range and hazardous building materials in:

  • multi-storey high-rise buildings
  • hospitals
  • shopping centres
  • ships (bulk carriers, product tankers, container ships, barges, ferries, etc.)
  • industrial plants
  • manufacturing plants
  • breweries
  • refineries; etc.

For further information regarding hazardous materials management contact:
Robert Gale on 0419 929 038
Michael Fisher on 0418 647 262