This month we have an update from our partners Altius on Asbestos Risk that may be in your Supply Chain, details of funding available for accredited training courses for those working within the construction industry, and an update from Dr Paul Stevens on the upcoming changes to ISO14001.
In light of the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) asbestos safety campaign, are robust protective measures built into your supply chain?
The HSE 'Beware Asbestos' campaign paints a bleak picture of the asbestos situation in the UK. Asbestos is the single biggest cause of work-related deaths in the UK and can still be found in many unlikely places such as ceiling tiles, boilers, lofts, and guttering. If disturbed and inhaled, asbestos can cause a number of diseases - the most fatal of which are mesothelioma and lung cancer. Diseases such as these claim the lives of 20 trades people each week.
Given this grim outlook, it is paramount that clients ensure that contractors undertaking work on their behalf are fully compliant on a range of stringent measures to provide protection.
In 2013, the HSE updated its Approved Code of Practice and guidance on working safely with asbestos.
The change combined two Approved Codes of Practice (ACOP) into one. As such, ACOP L127 (The management of asbestos in non-domestic premises) and ACOP L143 (Work with materials containing asbestos) are now both consolidated into the revised ACOP L143 (Managing and working with asbestos).
Broad responsibilities under the original Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 remain unchanged. As such, the person or persons responsible for the maintenance of a non-domestic premises have a 'duty to manage' asbestos within it. Accordingly, they are responsible for protecting anyone using or working on their site from asbestos and its associated health risks.
The 'duty holder' must complete three steps:
According to law, as long as asbestos containing material is in good condition and not likely to be damaged, then it may be left in place. The crucial aspect of the regulation is that any asbestos must be monitored and managed continuously. Failure to do so puts people at risk and can result in hefty fines.
In addition to these compulsory steps there are some additional strategies that property managers can follow to ensure utmost levels of protection. Clients should seek evidence from contractors that they comply with safeguards, such as:
First and foremost, asbestos awareness training for employees, contractors and sub-contractors can prove an effective protection against disease. HSE research shows that many workers recognise the risk asbestos poses, but are less aware of when they are likely to be exposed to it, or what measures they can take to protect themselves.
It is important to check that all operatives undertaking 'invasive' work have proper asbestos awareness training. Checking on the quality of any training is also important. If courses haven't been approved by organisations like UKATA or IATP, it is important to scrutinize the course material to check that at least the basics have been covered.
It is good practice to provide refresher training annually, remembering to include new starters as well as those returning from long periods of absence. A thorough analysis of asbestos competences is built into Altius' standard contractor assessment to provide peace of mind to clients.
Risk Assessment and management
An asbestos survey is another way to ensure robust defenses are maintained against asbestos exposure. Although not a legal requirement, it is good practice for those looking to effectively manage asbestos, especially if they are unsure how much of it is present. If carried out by a competent and qualified surveyor, asbestos surveys can provide accurate information about the location, amount and type of any asbestos-containing materials.
The asbestos survey report will inform the preparation of an asbestos register, a risk assessment and a management plan. Together these components will give a manager a firm grip of the asbestos situation in a building, if they are kept updated.
Managing asbestos right across the supply chain
Managing asbestos across a supply chain requires extra levels of caution and diligence owing to the number of layers involved in the management process. The owner of the building or organisation commissioning the work must remember that they have the ultimate responsibility as the 'duty holders'. Accordingly they are the ones who must ensure that regulations are being followed and safety measures are in place at every step of the supply chain.
For more information on supply chain and asbestos - contact the team at Altius!
Telephone: 08445 616 515
We thought our readers would be interested to hear that there is now funding available for courses for those working within the construction industry. These accredited courses range from taster sessions through to construction apprenticeships and on towards leadership and management training.
These new government funded initiatives were brought in to help bridge some of the gaps in knowledge and management skills within the construction industry. One organisation we are currently working with who can help you utilise these new funding initiatives is 'Skills4Stem'.
They are a training and planning consultancy and provide a multiple of services and courses. These include; succession planning consultancy, training and consultancy services, leadership courses, communication and interpersonal skills courses to mention a few.
Dependant on your current qualification level you may well be eligible to get assistance to improve your skill levels and gain a recognised qualification within the construction industry.
We see this as a unique opportunity to bridge some of the skill gaps that we seem to be suffering within our industry.
If you would like to know more about this opportunity then why don't you email firstname.lastname@example.org and arrange your FREE 1-1 taster session? It could be the best decision you make in 2015!
This year is going to be full of change. As well as the CDM (Construction, Design and Management) 2015 legislative changes and preparations for BIM (Building Information Modelling) Level 2 - there are also revisions being made to the Environmental Management standard 14001. The changes are due for implementation in Q3 2015 and are currently in draft form. ISO 14001 is the most popular of all the standards - which has been attributed to the continuous development of the content to keep it up to date with the latest ecological, political and social trends.
Do businesses need to take note and therefore work towards the revisions?
The answer is yes - most definitely.
The changes appear to put Environmental Management at the core of business planning - making it an integral part of a business. The apparent benefits seem to outweigh the negatives. The change in structure reflects the desire to standardize so that resources are used in the most effective way possible, making projects sustainable now and in the future.
In addition to standardization, experts have identified the need to make the standards more integrate-able so that the adoption of other standards can be done more easily. One of the major concerns of companies when embarking on the journey to certification is the amount of work involved. Standardization and integrate-ability will make this journey easier.
Most ISO changes (and even with non - ISO standards/guidance) are heading towards a system where you need to be able perform a detailed life-cycle analysis. BIM is a perfect example of this kind of structure, as well as the established idea of CDM. This has got to be a positive step especially because of the impact on liability and help with a companywide approach to standardization.
Even though there have been no formal studies or evidence to suggest this makes financial sense - surely the idea of standardization, integrate-ability and detail on liability should make a good case for ISO 14001 and in fact any ISO standard.
There is also the case of social responsibility. When undertaking certification for this "green" ISO you are committing to making your company an environmentally friendly organisation. Making everyone accountable for an outcome within a business provides that feeling of ownership. This is never a bad idea.
Dr Paul Stevens (ISO 14001 Consultant) points to company culture as being the main challenge in adopting this standard. As with any change management Paul suggests that you do it properly, embrace it and get employee buy-in. This can be done by employee engagement and effective internal communication. Thus, creating an environmentally aware workforce as well as developing a culture of improvement.
This is why businesses should take note.