It has been more than two decades since the use of asbestos was banned in the UK, but the once widely used building material – a regrettable by-product of the Industrial Revolution – still has an ongoing and worrying legacy.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimates there are 12,000 lung disease deaths linked with exposures in the workplace, annually*. Of these, around 4,800 (40 per cent) can be attributed to asbestos*, meaning the substance continues to be the UK’s top occupational killer. With each passing year, more asbestos is removed, hopefully signalling a future end to its reign. But this can only be done through businesses supporting the identification and management of the deadly material. Lauren Todd, Product Owner for Risk Manager discusses..
“The past 18 months has made us all more aware of the risks involved in everyday life, not least of all our workplaces. Risk management including asbestos identification and removal could and should be at the forefront of this ambition to ‘build back better’ following the pandemic, prioritising employee health and wellbeing. It can feel like an overwhelming task to undertake as a business or property owner, but the use of a risk management system can help tremendously.”
Drawing from experience
“Recently, design for a new asbestos module for RM has been in development and is currently undergoing major testing with the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) to sign off every page and workflow. In 2016, Police Scotland was told it needed to take “remedial action” over the presence of asbestos in some of its buildings**, so it is aware of the ramifications involved with this substance. Sypro has been working closely with SPA, carrying out extensive research of the industry, discussing requirements in person and collecting feedback to ensure the processes of the module are working correctly.
“There were certain workflows very bespoke to the way SPA works, but these elements were not carried forward as the system aims to manage asbestos more generally for all manners of organisations. The new system is heavily based on HSE guidelines and industry standards and was built with the mass market in mind.”
A solid solution
“The system is a one-stop-shop for asbestos management, covering all areas of duty management from identification to removal. The module specifically holds a dynamically updated asbestos register – often called asbestos risk register – for every site, ensuring up-to-date and easily accessible information about the presence and condition of any asbestos within the building.
“The module allows users to instruct regular inspections to check the current condition of asbestos materials using the ‘asbestos surveys’ workflow. This is inclusive of additions to the register when new areas are surveyed, and asbestos is located, as well as changes to the register when asbestos- containing materials have deteriorated.
“Users can also further manage their asbestos by instructing remedial work such as removal, repair or encapsulation. It can also link to any necessary analytical work such as smoke test, leak test, personal monitoring, reassurance monitoring, four-stage clearance, bulk sample, completeness check, TEM Sample, SEM sample and background monitoring.
“Not only does the module allow the above to be instructed, but with restricted supplier access, suppliers can be instructed and perform their actions directly through the system. It presents a solid solution for the risks around asbestos and ensures a better future for businesses and individuals.”
* Occupational Lung Disease statistics in Great Britain, 2020 accessed here: Occupational Lung
Disease statistics in Great Britain, 2020 (hse.gov.uk)
**BBC News, 2016 accessed here: Police Scotland told to remedy ‘asbestos issue’ – BBC News