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

It's estimated about 20% of the population of England and Wales use water supplies that have passed though asbestos cement pipework.

How safe are our water supplies from asbestos?

A few weeks ago, we read an interesting editorial about concerns that water supplies in America and Canada may contain asbestos. The opinion piece appeared in The Altamont Enterprise in Albany County, New York, and was called We shouldn’t play Russian roulette with our water supply. It raised concerns about a water main break in … Read more

Are you doing everything you can be to be asbestos-safe?

20 years after the use of asbestos was banned in the UK will we ever be asbestos-safe?

Have you ever considered if the UK will ever be asbestos-safe? Here at Acorn Analytical Services we are regularly asked by clients and friends if we think there is enough asbestos left in the country to see us out. Sadly, the answer is yes and not just us but generations to come. Any building built … Read more

Acorn Analytical Services director Ian Stone has worked in the asbestos industry for 20 years.

Acorn director has spent 20 years in asbestos industry fighting hidden killer

This month it is 20 years since Acorn Analytical Services director Ian Stone first entered the asbestos industry. We caught up with Ian to find out how his career in the asbestos industry began and what changes he has seen along the way. Ian, what made you want to join the asbestos industry? When I … Read more

How often do you wonder if you’re at risk from asbestos at home?

Is asbestos at home a worry for you?

How often do you wonder if you’re at risk from asbestos at home?  It’s probably not something that many people think about in their daily lives but frighteningly homes up and down the UK are riddled with asbestos. Asbestos can be found in a surprisingly high number of places throughout our homes, including in ceilings, … Read more

If you are embarking on a building or renovation project contact a professional team of asbestos experts before work gets underway.

Asbestos experts save lives

A court case in recent weeks has highlighted once again why it is so important to turn to asbestos experts before you start any type of building work. Salisbury Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 8 September 2018, Robert Angell undertook work to remove asbestos-containing material (ACM) while renovating a pub in Trowbridge, Wiltshire. An investigation … Read more

Asbestos in schools remains a problem in the UK

Should we be worried about asbestos in schools?

Earlier this year we launched a hard-hitting campaign to raise awareness about the issue of asbestos in schools. Shockingly, in some of our cities and towns, more than 80% of schools have an asbestos problem and every year hundreds of people die here after being exposed to asbestos in schools as children. There have also … Read more

Working from home gives organisations the chance to find out if their workplace contains asbestos

Use working from home time to tackle the worry of asbestos

As millions of workers return to working from home this week to curb the spread of Covid-19 did you know this could be one of your best opportunities to make your workplace safer? It may come as a surprise to a lot of people but asbestos is actually the world’s biggest workplace killer. We’ve made … Read more

Asbestos in the workplace can kill if it is not managed properly.

Asbestos in the workplace is a killer

At Acorn Analytical Services, we are all too well aware that asbestos in the workplace can kill if it is not managed properly. This Sunday, our staff – along with millions of other people across the UK – will stop what they’re doing and observe a minute’s silence to mark National Workplace Day of Remembrance … Read more

If you or your staff are working in the vicinity of asbestos and you fail to wear RPE correctly the consequences could be severe.

The dangers of not wearing RPE correctly

Being out on the frontline helping organisations to manage their asbestos safely means we’re no strangers to wearing RPE. For anyone who doesn’t know RPE stands for Respiratory Protective Equipment and it comes in two main types – respirators and breathing apparatus. RPE is one of the most essential pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) … Read more

Lung disease is a threat to construction workers

Construction workers warned about lung disease

Every week construction workers in the UK are dying from lung disease because they have inhaled hazardous substances at work. The seriousness of the situation prompted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to deliver an awareness campaign during recent weeks whilst its inspectors carried out health-related site inspections. Construction workers have a high risk of … Read more