Safety First

The 7th June 2016 was National Cancer Survivor's day, an annual celebration for those who have survived the disease, as well as an inspiration for those who have been recently diagnosed, that takes place in communities around the world. Observed on every first Sunday in June, the event has been created with the goal of improving the quality of life for cancer survivors through raising awareness to the challenges faced during and after treatment.

One type of cancer that is growing in numbers is mesothelioma, which mainly develops in the tissues covering the lungs but can also affect the lining of the stomach, heart or testicles. Over time, mesothelioma cells cover the outer surface of the affected organs to form a lining known as mesothelium. Linked to asbestos exposure, mesothelioma has a low survival rate as it is often diagnosed at an advanced stage, up to four decades after a person inhaled the cancer-causing fibres. In fact, the HSE suggests that asbestos is responsible for more than two-thirds of deaths within the industry. Because of this, treatment tends to focus on controlling symptoms and prolonging life instead of curing the patient.

With mesothelioma cases due to reach their peak in 2020, it is anticipated that 2500 people will be diagnosed with the disease in the UK in 2016 alone, with men five times more likely to be diagnosed than women. Now that there is more knowledge on the deadly carcinogen and the severe damage to health it causes, particularly to tradesmen operating in industries such as construction, it is important to ensure the high level of people diagnosed continues to fall over the coming years through the implementation and/or adherence to health and safety regulations in the workplace.

Although dealing with asbestos safely can significantly increase construction costs for some, it is a price worth paying when it comes to preventing health risks and maintaining a solid reputation as a company to be trusted. This is particularly important to remember when working in a property built before the year 2000, as asbestos can be found anywhere from water tanks, toilet cisterns, vinyl floor tiles and roof products. The fact it only takes a minute amount of disturbed asbestos to cause often-fatal damage to those in its vicinity further proves the need to take caution and follow the rules and regulations during the renovation or demolishing of a building.

Should a building undergo major refurbishment or demolition works, an asbestos survey is required for the identification of asbestos materials. Furthermore, due to the costs that come with the removal and disposal of asbestos, asbestos surveys are also carried out in advance of the purchase or sale of a building.

There are two types of survey for asbestos containing material (ACMs) and the duty holder, building owner, employer and surveyor need to be clear on the type of survey needed, where the survey is needed, and what records should result. ARG can provide customers with management surveys, this is a non-intrusive survey that allows us to identify areas of asbestos within a building and sample them for analysis. This is the basis for a risk based plan of management; identifying areas that may be a problem during occupancy, including installation of services and maintenance. On top of this, we also offer a return to premises and an update on your asbestos survey, which should be carried out annually.

The other survey that we provide is a refurbishment/demolition survey, which is required prior to any major refurbishment or demolition works commencing. This is a fully intrusive survey that requires full access to all areas of a building, including service areas. The surveyor will remove areas of ceilings, walls floors and so on to enable them to map and sample areas, which may contain asbestos. The samples will then be analysed and a plan made for removal of the asbestos prior to refurbishment or demolition. In both types of survey we provide, a hard copy of our report, including analysis, will be issued. The report will map out the areas of concern and give a plan of action for the client to follow. We also provide a copy of our report on CD, which allows easy updating over the coming years.

Should asbestos removal be required, ARG is among the leaders in this industry and was one of the first asbestos companies to be licensed by the HSE in 1983. Since this milestone in our history, we have of course continually enhanced and evolved our services in line with new challenges, legislation and knowledge over the years to ensure we deliver well-planned and competently executed solutions in close collaboration with clients.

All staff undertaking asbestos survey or removal projects are fully trained and up-to-date on the high quality work expected of them as well as their health and safety obligations to ensure each and every project results in a satisfied customer and a healthy workforce. Only through compliance, constant improvement and raising awareness on the dangers of asbestos can we as an industry prevent the premature deaths of our workforce in the future.