• ISO/IEC 17025

Laboratory Accreditation | Asbestos testing

Asbestos testing

In support of regulations, UKAS accredits a large number of Laboratories that carry out Asbestos testing to the internationally recognised standard ISO/IEC 17025.

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 give minimum standards for protecting employees from risks associated with exposure to asbestos. An Approved Code of Practice (L143) and guidance (HSG 248) give practical advice on how to comply with legal duties set out in the Regulations. Critically;

  • Employers are accredited to ISO/IEC 17025 where they contract any person to perform asbestos air testing and site clearance (Reg 20)*
  • Employers are accredited to ISO/IEC 17025 where they contract any person to perform analysis of material to check for asbestos is (Reg 21)*

* Except where testing is conducted by the employer for their own needs. However, the criteria for meeting the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025 still has to be met.

In support of the regulations UKAS accredits the following areas of asbestos testing:
  • Sampling of air for fibre counting
  • Fibre counting (PLM/PCM)
  • Fibre counting (air and/or bulk) and Identification (SEM/TEM)
  • 4 Stage Clearance Process
  • Identification of asbestos in bulk materials
  •  Asbestos In Soils – Identification

Additionally, the following testing activities are also offered for accreditation purposes to add value to the suite of activities mandated by Regulation:

  • Sampling of bulk materials for asbestos identification
  • Water absorption – to clarify whether asbestos boards and tiles are classified as materials that require a licence to work on (eg AIB) or as asbestos materials that do not require a licence (eg Asbestos Cement)
  • Asbestos in soils – Quantification/free-fibre analysis
  • Fibre discrimination in air

Note: Fibre discrimination is only undertaken during the second analysis of a sample, i.e. after an initial fibre count has been undertaken, for which accreditation is required (see above).

Information relating to our Risk-Based Pilot Programme

Further to our initial announcement in March 2021 we are pleased to announce that we are taking the next step in our Risk-Based Pilot programme.

As you may have noticed, Assessment Managers have been completing risk evaluations as part of the assessment process since March 2021 and will use these to inform the date of your next assessment. Your Assessment Manager will be in touch with you to communicate your Monitoring Outcome and how this will impact your next assessment in due course. Your Monitoring Outcome will be reviewed at each subsequent assessment to ensure it remains representative and up to date.

UKAS held an informational webinar for customers on 2 March 22 which provided greater detail on the changes. You can access a copy of the recording here. A copy of the updated Customer Information pack is also available here.

You can view our updated Terms of Reference here, and Frequently Asked Questions here.


Information on transition to HSG248 Asbestos: The Analyst’ Guide

The deadline for asbestos testing laboratories to transition to HSG248 Asbestos: The Analysts’ Guide second edition, published 2021, was 1st February 2022.

UKAS is happy to report that from over 170 laboratories who were in the process from the start of the transition in May 2021, 97% have successfully transitioned on time. This has involved a great deal of work from Laboratories, Technical Assessors, Assessment Managers, Decision-Makers, and the Schedules Team, who ensured that all affected schedules were updated and uploaded to our website in the required timeframe. Thanks go to all involved for successful implementation in ensuring the transition went as smoothly as it good.

Whilst the transition to the Second Edition has been completed, the process itself has identified a number of changes which require a degree of interpretation and/or clarification. Going forwards, and for consistency in approach across the Sector, recent discussion with HSE and Asbestos TAC stakeholders has taken place to agree on common interpretation of the guidance, based on its original intentions. A number of these have now been agreed and can be conveyed in the revised Asbestos Technical Bulletin (Issue 7). The bulletin contains a separate proposal as an Annex that has been included to support and aspect, that as yet, has now been agreed. Full details of this proposal can also be found in the bulletin.

Readiness Assessment Tool

We appreciate the journey to accreditation can be daunting, with this in mind we’ve created a Readiness Assessment Tool. Start your self-assessment against the expectations of ISO/IEC 17025 and find out how ready you are to apply click here.

UKAS Training Academy

To support our accreditation work, the UKAS Training Academy offers a range of public and on-site training courses. Our portfolio of courses provide UK & overseas delegates with knowledge and best practice of accreditation practices and conformity assessment systems.

To find out more about courses specific to this standard, click here.