Complacency – an asbestos surveyor’s biggest enemy

Commercial Photography from Pete Barnes

Complacency is the asbestos surveyor’s enemy number one.

There is lots of training available to make sure surveyors are qualified and they will build up experience before they are let loose on their own because asbestos is such a hazardous substance.

You tend to find surveyors aren’t complacent when they first qualify because the work is still new and they’re still not 100% comfortable with it.

The danger can come when they’ve been doing the job for a little while. It’s like driving a car, you get used to doing things and can go on auto pilot. This is when complacency may start to creep in.

Never presume

If a surveyor becomes complacent you may find that when, for example, they’re surveying a large office block once they’ve surveyed 80% of it and the same issues keep coming up they may presume there’s nothing else to look for. If they’ve not found anything in the ceilings up until that point they stop checking them and then lo and behold in the last 20% there is something but they miss it.

I surveyed a high-rise hospital built in the 1970s which had had its top floor fully refurbished in the 2000s. Floor after floor nothing was coming up and when we got to the last floor there was a locked room to which no one had a key. It would have been so tempting to have walked away but we didn’t. We persevered and found a key to the room and I’m so glad we did because in the ceiling of that last room we found Asbestos Insulating Board (AIB) risers. They were nowhere else in the building and if we’d been complacent we’d have missed them.

A surveyor should also never presume what a material contains. It is easy to see something and think that you’ve sent materials like that to the laboratory for testing countless times and it’s always come back negative so you don’t need to sample it this time. Let’s be clear about this – the only way surveyors can categorically tell that something is asbestos or not is by having it analysed in the laboratory.

Keeping complacency at bay

One of the best ways to avoid complacency is by following the surveying procedures correctly. Ceilings, walls and floors should be checked methodically.

Surveyors should remember how dangerous asbestos can be and hold on to that fear. They should walk away knowing they’ve been everywhere in that building and there is nothing they don’t know about it now. If they’re not concerned that people might come into contact with asbestos and are not prepared to do everything possible to make sure that doesn’t happen they shouldn’t become an asbestos surveyor.

They should never rush a survey just to get home. Rushing is the second biggest danger after complacency. If they’re not committed to doing the job properly they should leave the industry because if they don’t their attitude is going to end up costing them, their employer and potentially some very unfortunate people a lot – may be even their lives.

You can trust Acorn with your survey

At Acorn we hold monthly meetings where we review our work and share knowledge. It reminds everyone what they should be doing and prevents us from becoming complacent.

Spot audits also help keep people on their toes. You need someone who is super experienced and also a stickler. Spot audits are there to make staff better and our product even better which is good news for us, our clients and the end users.

Re-inspections are another way of checking and resurveying areas to make sure that they are correct. The feedback from re-inspections is important to us and our clients because they prevent us from making mistakes and stop complacency setting in.

When people come on board with us, we train them and we also always get our team to check one another’s work. Two pairs of eyes are better than one because people look at things in different ways.

We’re a professional asbestos consultancy helping businesses deal with asbestos compliance using asbestos surveysasbestos air testing, and asbestos removal management. Please call one of the team, or use the online form to obtain your free quotation. If you would like further information or advice on asbestos and asbestos training, contact the team on 0844 818 0895 or Contact Us

Neil Munro

I work in a dual role at Acorn Analytical Services focused primarily on growing and leading the business from our Northampton office base. My focus is on overseeing all sales, marketing and financial activities from Northampton. I assist clients with high-level asbestos management strategies and training. Together with Ian Stone I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I'm Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

Need Help? Request a Call Back

Request a call back from one of our expert Asbestos Consultants who will help you identify what you need

More Asbestos Articles

Acorn School Site 26 e1634213147938

School holidays are the perfect time for asbestos surveys

When you think of the upcoming October half-term holiday, asbestos surveys and asbestos-related works might not be the first thing that spring to mind. Fortunately, many schools and colleges wisely choose to use their breaks to get on top of their asbestos issues by organising asbestos surveys or carrying out works which – without the … Read more

Acorn campaign targets asbestos in schools.

Asbestos in schools to be tackled by new Acorn campaign

This week we were proud to launch a hard-hitting campaign targeting the issue of asbestos in schools. If you read our blog last week you will know that more than 20 years after the UK banned the use of asbestos here, it’s estimated that a high percentage of our schools still contain the deadly substance. … Read more

Is the UK ignoring its problem with asbestos in schools?

Is the UK ignoring its problem with asbestos in schools?

Did you know that the UK has a significant problem with asbestos in schools? More than two decades since the use of asbestos was banned in the UK, it’s estimated that eight out of 10 of our schools still contain the deadly substance. Throughout the 20th century, asbestos was used frequently by our construction industry, … Read more

National Mesothelioma Awareness Day c5810986 e1632385966395

Raising awareness about mesothelioma

This Sunday, Americans, their federal departments and agencies and their media are being called upon to observe the annual US National Mesothelioma Awareness Day with ceremonies and activities. Back in 2010, September 26 was earmarked by the US Congress as a special day to raise the American public’s awareness about mesothelioma and to encourage all … Read more

worker 6544391 1920 e1631783205514

UK house builder becomes first to divert asbestos away from landfill

We’ve heard some fantastic news about asbestos in the UK during the past few days. Leading developer Lovell has become the first UK house builder to actively tackle the challenge of asbestos waste. The firm is collaborating with Wolverhampton-based Thermal Recycling to safely package and convert asbestos waste into a safe and reusable cement substitute. … Read more

road sign 4244285 1920 e1631178843233

Asbestos causes a headache for constructor and neighbouring businesses

Asbestos hit the headlines once again this week when it brought a construction project grinding to a halt, closed off a town centre road and disrupted nearby businesses. The Stoke Sentinel has published an article sharing the frustrations of businesses in Piccadilly Arcade in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, who were unable to access their parking spaces or … Read more

surgery 3034071 1920 e1630572942721

Looking after asbestos will help us all breathe more easily

Many people have lives filled with work and family and 101 other activities that take up our days. So, today we’d like you to do something for us – just pause for a second and take a deep breath in and a deep breath out. Did you manage to do it? The average person takes … Read more

Acorn Samples 6 e1629960810872

Concerns raised about asbestos on British beach

Most of us love a seaside holiday but sadly one of Britain’s beaches hit the headlines last week for all the wrong reasons. You may remember that back in May we ran a blog on ‘Are holidaymakers in danger of finding asbestos on beaches?’ which highlighted a number of British beaches where asbestos had been … Read more

Acorn Jan 2020 Low Res 49 e1629361953760

Acorn receives the backing of major organisations

At Acorn Analytical Services we are very proud of the wide range of asbestos management and training services that we provide. We are proud to say we’re a fully independent and impartial company and that clients can be confident that the results and recommendations they receive from us will always be in their best interests. … Read more

building plan 354233 1920 e1628755740921

Will planning reform put more people at risk from asbestos?

There have been lots of concerns raised in the national press recently about new planning reforms which mean a wider range of commercial properties can now be converted into flats. The reforms came into force at the beginning of this month in a bid to regenerate city centres which have struggled during the pandemic. However, … Read more