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Asbestos in Schools

Asbestos Experts Comments on
HSE Web App


Construction Index
Comments from asbestos consultants on the HSE Web Communities site
Construction Index

A new app developed by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) as part of its asbestos awareness campaign has been criticised by the United Kingdom Asbestos Training Association.


The directors of the United Kingdom Asbestos Training Association (UKATA) said that they were “extremely disappointed” by the introduction of the HSE app called Beware Asbestos. They said that it could encourage untrained people to carry out asbestos removal work.
In a statement they said: “In our considered opinion, this app does not satisfy HSE’s own guidance and gives completely the wrong message to tradespeople who may consider carrying out minor works involving asbestos. This app appears to have been produced without any input from competent asbestos trainers, and without any input from personnel experienced in asbestos works.
“Under the circumstances, we would like to state, in the strongest possible terms, that we cannot endorse this app or support it in any way.
“Our considered opinion is that the app does not adequately represent the very real risks associated with working with asbestos containing materials. More importantly, the app gives a false impression of asbestos related risk and can even encourage untrained personnel to perform asbestos work. Under the circumstances, we would strongly recommend the removal of the app from the HSE web site before further and lasting damage is incurred.”
The HSE’s app carries the rider: “The information provided is not enough to protect against all risks from asbestos. If possible, you should plan work to avoid disturbing any asbestos; if this is not possible, do not start work until you have the correct instruction, information and training to do it safely.”

The following is a flavour of the comments from asbestos consultants on the HSE Web Communities Site. If people wish to join the HSE asbestos web-community then follow this link and there is a list of the discussions and the web names, etc of the writers can be seen by registering on that site

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I am agog and stunned into silence. I have just navigated the HSE's new online app giving advice on all things asbestos that you might encounter whilst working onsite. Unless I am very much mistaken the general advice seems to be download your task sheet put on a pair of paper overalls and a disposable mask and then fill your boots for up to two hours of fun packed asbestos devastation. I have always had reservations about HSG210 and the message that type of guidance sends out to the building and contracting trades. I have had many a lively debate with people who think that with limited knowledge, understanding and in this new App's case no training you can spend up to two hours playing with asbestos containing materials that can liberate huge amounts of airborne asbestos fibres. I am all for spreading the word but this seems to be spread the asbestos!!

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The guidance on AIB seems rather risky at best considering the vague descriptions about the enclosure building, no real information on how likely AIB is to release vast numbers of fibres and nothing about proper cleaning down of the area afterwards from the parts I've read. You'd think it was a guide to painting a room, not removing a serious and potentially dangerous containment.
If you're going to give information about this, for goodness sake make the risks clear. For example, under the "Removing a nailed-in asbestos insulating board", the description on building the enclosure doesn't make it very clear that it needs to be completely sealed top, bottom and sides and even includes terms such as "...and cover the work area inside with plastic sheets to help catch waste". Erm, help catch waste...so it doesn't matter if perhaps a bit gets out and what about those pesky assy fibres that people keep talking about!?
There is even a section somewhere which mentions breaking AIB by covering the break line with shaving foam and using a sharp knife to score the break line. This seems to forget that AIB doesn't always break where you want it to, and the foam won't really stop fibre release even if it does break along that line.
With regards equipment, I'm worried about the lack of information on dealing with h-type vac's, the emptying of which could undo any precautions you take when undertaking the work and seriously risk the health of anyone undertaking this.
They do say, a little knowledge in dangerous and this could be the ultimate example.

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I called into a DIY store yesterday evening to do a little bit of 'secret shopping'. While there I asked about asbestos and sought advice on what to do if I were to require the removal of a ceiling that had textured coating on it in a building built in the 1960's which I believed contained some of this asbestos stuff (I'm good at looking uneducated, many years of practice).
To my surprise, the young chap I spoke was able to offer advice. He offered me some kit to wear, which I humbly accepted, and a document to follow.I was also asked if I had one of those modern phones where I could down load 'apps'. I will also mention that here was no mask offered.
I asked if the stuff was really as bad as was being made out and pushed further on whether or not I need any form of training, insurance etc to deal with my ceiling.
Answer from the store assistant: "no mate, its only a bit of Artex, don't worry about it."
When asked about how to dispose of it, the following response was received. "we have bags that you can put it in. You can put it in your bin if you don't have too much, but not your recycling bin" he then went to say "if you have a lot, you may need a skip, or we have a bag service that's not expensive for up to a tonne, you fill it, call the number and they come and pick it up".
It may be an idea to close my training company. It appears that training is no longer required for working with asbestos. I would ask, could anyone reading this, (hopefully it will be posted) would it be possible to send me a copy of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2014, that's the one that have Regulations 5,6,7,10,11,12,16, 17, 18 and 24 removed from it in case you were wondering. They are probably pretty easy to read as there wont be much left.
I think I shall look into opening a garden center, I here daffodils are soon to come into season. Pretty flowers.

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If you think the recent forum comments on TC were fun then have a look at the potential that this gives.
The " app" seems to be pictures of product and then a link to Essentials to come out with the DIY solution. Have not spent too long on it but not seen any mention of training - impression is "just do it" (apologies to Nike)
This seems to be publicising all the bits of Essentials that maybe were better kept in the dark. Yes the law may appear to allow you to but unless you have a type h are you really able to remove AIB in a boiler cupboard safely........I have always struggled with the mini enclosure bit and the 2 hour rule and was surprised to see that it had been put straight on here.....
List of licensed contractors also seems a bit dated....
I must say this was not quite what I had envisaged when I read that HSE were relaunching their asbestos campaign. I thought it was about awareness and that the basic rule of thumb was find it or suspect it and stop...?
This seems to be -- where are you working ... in a house,,, when was it built -- don't know -- choose before 2000 - where are you working -=- in a boiler cupboard - how big is the AIB - less than 1 sq m -- "then crack on my son" and follow this description as to how to do the job
OR AM I MISSING SOMETHING? Like compliance with most of the requirements of CAR? I wait with interest the first defence of a PR along the lines of ... "I followed the app Sir" and am not entirely sure of the relevance on the summons as what Reg 5,6,7,8,10,12,13,14,17 and 19 of CAR are to me?
I wait the assembled view with interest?

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has expressed its ‘surprise and disappointment’ at criticism of its asbestos app.

Last week the directors of the United Kingdom Asbestos Training Association (UKATA) said that the HSE app called Beware Asbestos could encourage untrained people to carry out asbestos removal work, rather than call in a licensed specialist contractor. (See previous report here.)

Kären Clayton, director of the HSE’s long latency health risks division, said: “HSE is surprised and disappointed that the United Kingdom Asbestos Training Association (UKATA) appears to be arguing for the removal of free advice aimed at those who might otherwise remain unaware of the risks they face with regards to asbestos.

“HSE’s Beware Asbestos campaign is aimed at, and reaching, thousands of trades people and workers who undertake jobs on a daily basis that intentionally or unintentionally disturb asbestos. Many of these workers are ignorant of the risks they face when they carry out common tasks such as drilling holes in textured ceilings and replacing old panels around baths.  The web app takes already existing advice on how to do these tasks safely and presents it in an easy to understand way that workers can carry around with them. 

“The web app is very clear in stating what jobs tradespeople must not do, and indeed helps them to find and contact licensed asbestos contractors in their area who can do those jobs for them.

“While commercially available training courses, such as those provided by UKATA’s members, play an important part in educating workers on what they must do, it is also vital that as many workers as possible know about the risk they face from asbestos and of the simple measures they can follow to protect themselves.  This is what the web app and the wider ‘Beware Asbestos’ campaign is all about.”