Changes to Asbestos Removal Work

Changes have come into force which will have an impact on the length of time it takes to successfully complete the Asbestos Removal Work 4 Stage Clearance process.

This week changes have come into force which will have an impact on the length of time it takes to successfully complete the Asbestos Removal Work 4 Stage Clearance process.

Asbestos 4 Stage Clearances independently verify that a client’s asbestos removal works have been completed correctly.

During the clearance process, asbestos analysts are required to inspect every nook and cranny of the asbestos work area so they can be confident it is clean and free from asbestos debris and dust before people are allowed to return to the area.

The Analysts Guide (amended July 2021) was implemented on Tuesday and in essence, the guidance around clearances has been tightened to ensure licensed asbestos removal contractors and clients cannot pressure asbestos analysts into rushing through their investigations and providing a Certificate for Reoccupation (CfR) where it isn’t safe to do so.

What do the changes to Asbestos Removal Work involve?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the UK Accreditation body UKAS have given clear instructions to asbestos analysts about when they should fail a CfR during the 4 Stage Clearance process.

They have been told to fail a CfR if there is no handover form at beginning of the process and if more than 10 minutes of additional cleaning is needed to pass Stage 2 of the CfR – irrespective of the size of the area.

Analysts are forbidden from carrying out any cleaning – however minor.

As a result of the changes, asbestos analysts also need to provide more information for the CfR now, including extensive photographic evidence.

Analysts must time and date stamp their photographs to show they have carried out a thorough inspection.

All this means the clearance process will take more time to complete than it has in the past.

This will be seen as a thorn in the side for many contractors and clients who have previously got away with having a rushed inspection shoehorned in at the end of a project.

However, people should not lose sight of why these changes to Asbestos Removal Work have been introduced.

It is to ensure that people are not returning to premises where asbestos is still present following removal work.

In the past, unless you had the process project managed, the 4 Stage Clearance was often overlooked and yet it is arguably the most important part of the entire project.

All too often contractors and clients have been guilty of simply tacking a miniscule amount of time on at the end of the contractor’s program to allow for a clearance.

In reality, this has never been good enough and has led to problems within the asbestos industry.

It’s vital that people remember asbestos is a deadly substance which causes several fatal and serious conditions, including mesothelioma, asbestosis and asbestos-related lung cancer.

If contractors and clients fail to follow the laws relating to asbestos, they could be putting lives at risk and their organisations could be prosecuted and face potentially crippling fines.

In some cases, individuals may also be personally prosecuted and face custodial sentences.

What do the changes mean for contractors and building project clients?

The bottom line for licensed asbestos removal contractors and clients is that they should allow more time for this work to be carried out.

To start with, contractors should ensure they leave enough time to properly clear and inspect the affected area before they hand it over to the asbestos analysts.

Contractors have always been required to check their work before handing it over to analysts to complete the clearance, but this rarely happened and when it did the contractors often wouldn’t inspect the enclosure to the same standard as the analysts.

Contractors must also now ensure they have allowed enough time in their program of works for an analyst to complete their inspection properly – failure to do so is likely to delay when people can return to the property.

Likewise, if contractors have not prepared the site properly in advance of the analyst’s visit it is likely they will fail to receive a CfR which will also delay people returning to the area.

How can Acorn help?

When clients are planning any building projects we would strongly advise them to get in touch with us at the very early stages so that we can help them to identify if they have asbestos, what state it is in and where it is located through an asbestos survey.

This information can then be shared with everyone working on site to ensure everyone is safe throughout the project and no one is at risk from prosecution.

At Acorn, we also offer an asbestos removal management service to help clients to come up with realistic schedules that account for the amount of time that asbestos removal works are likely to take and allow for time for the 4 Stage Clearance process.

Failure to do this is highly likely to lead to the project suffering delays and people being delayed from returning to their property.

To help clients and licensed asbestos removal contractors to understand what types of timescales they should be looking at now, we have also produced a handy new guide.

The New Asbestos 4 Stage Clearance White Paper from Acorn has been designed to help contractors and their clients to navigate the minefield of new guidance.

It sets out the changes clearly and gives examples of how much time should be factored in for the 4 Stage Clearance process, depending on the circumstances.

For further information about Acorn’s asbestos removal management service contact Sian Stone on 01604 648928.

The New Four Stage Clearance

Download your FREE copy of The New Asbestos 4 Stage Clearance white paper which sets out the new changes taking effect in relation to the new Second edition HSG 248 Asbestos: The Analysts’ Guide.

Ian Stone

I am based out of our Northampton office but regularly travel to meet with new and existing clients. I have assisted thousands of clients over the years on varying-sized projects, several have been schemes totalling over one million pounds spent purely on asbestos. Together with Neil Munro, I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I am Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

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