Constructive Evaluation has a team of experienced Geo-Environmental specialists, able to provide full Contaminated Land assessments or soil screening as necessary to fulfil the requirements of construction projects and to satisfy the planning process.
The article below was written in its entirety by one of our surveyors who is genuinely concerned that there are many occassions, in his experience, where the matter of asbestos management leaves a lot to be desired.
Constructive Evaluation does not undertake asbestos removal or reoccupation monitoring and has published this article not as an opinion of the company but as an expression of an individuals views and experiences.
Should you wish to respond or discuss any aspect of the above, please contact Ricky Young on 01243 533499 or email [email protected]
Asbestos is a very emotive subject and in the 14 or so years that I have been an asbestos surveyor, I have heard a lot of heartbreaking stories from the people directly affected by the consequences of working with asbestos. In most cases it's about a close family member who has passed away due to them unknowingly working on asbestos or even using asbestos as part of their trade.
The HSE have had an excellent long running campaign to ensure that all trades people are made aware of the hazards involved with asbestos when carrying out their normal duties and it's working. Trades people are more aware of the potential for coming into contact with asbestos containing materials and I am quite often called to look at materials that contractors have uncovered in carrying out their daily work. In a few of the cases it proves not to be an asbestos containing material, to some that would be considered a wasted journey, to me it shows that the system is working and the contractor is on the ball.
So all this sounds great, it would seem that there is a system in place and that the system is working. Unfortunately, I don't think that it is working. The system is so open to abuse by the people that we rely on to provide us an asbestos free environment. Some asbestos strips I have come across have been shocking and in a lot of cases I have advised clients to close access to the areas because they are more dangerous than before the strip took place. Please don't think for one minute that I'm blaming the stripping contractors for not carrying out their work correctly, I'm not! There is a system in place to ensure that the strip is carried out correctly, not just concerning the health of the building occupiers, but also the guys completing the stripping works and we then have the air-testing and reoccupation certification and not forgetting whoever is managing the project.
When I visit site after a strip and find bits of asbestos lying around, asbestos lagging lying under or behind the pipes or on top of shelves, I've even been to one site and found 'H' type vacuum bags full of asbestos debris still sat in the work area. The client has approached the removal contractors and in some cases the issue is rectified, in other cases the removal contractor has sub-contracted out the work, so he will have a word with the sub-contractor. However, there are also cases where the client has been told "it was air-tested and a reoccupation certificate was supplied" which is a must for all asbestos strips.
So, if you include whoever is managing the strip, the whole process has been overseen by three groups and every one of them has failed to provide a safe environment for the building occupiers in accordance to the current legislation.
My honest opinion is that the whole asbestos trade needs a major overhaul from the initial surveys right through the whole process to the handover on completion. There are systems and governing bodies in place to ensure a quality service is provided to the public. However, in my opinion it's more to ensure all the 'i's' are dotted and 't's' are crossed, rather than what's going on in your property.
We are a business, so we choose to carry out asbestos surveys and management projects because that is part of how we earn our living. We also believe that people's lives are at risk so we need to face up to the fact our actions can affect not just the people who come into contact with asbestos, but those people around them who have to suffer the consequences of their loved one coming in to contact with asbestos.
Starting from the initial survey to handing the property back to the client, it's about time that we started giving the clients real service and not blaming the next person for our failure to provide a safe efficient service and it's about time the governing bodies show some interest in what their accredited contractors are doing, not just making sure their dues are paid and all the paperwork is in place.