FAAM and BOHS welcome updated HSE Guidance on Asbestos-it will contribute to better management of asbestos risks

The British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS), a scientific charity and the Chartered Society for Worker Health Protection has joined the Faculty of Asbestos Assessment and Management (FAAM), a leading professional body for those who identify and manage asbestos risk, in welcoming the Health and Safety Executive’s publication of a new updated version of HSG248 Asbestos: The Analysts’ Guide.

The original Guide was first published in 2005. It has since been reviewed and issued for public consultation in 2015 which has resulted in this new version. The newly released version sees substantial revisions to the recommended working methods and competences of the scientists who identify and determine asbestos risk. Asbestos analysts play a critical role in every stage of the process of dealing with this toxic substance which was finally banned as a building material in the UK in 1999, but which is still widely present in buildings, waste, sea-going vessels and was even used in common consumer products. Every year around five thousand people die as a result of asbestos related illnesses.

The release of the guide takes place shortly after the end of a consultation process by the European Chemicals Agency, proposing changes to the Occupational Exposure Limits for Asbestos. Both FAAM and BOHS responded to this, highlighting the importance of practical and scientifically valid approaches to analysis and monitoring of asbestos. You can read the scientific analysis by FAAM/BOHS here.

Changes to the guide include the updating of technical methods, as well as standards of competency for those providing services. Asbestos analysts are involved in identifying whether materials contain asbestos, monitoring the air to provide reassurance for general occupation of buildings and when asbestos is being removed to ensure the safety of workers in the asbestos removal industry and also in ensuring that sites are clear of asbestos once removal has taken place.

The changes will require action by the asbestos industry over coming months and will impact on the training of all future analysts.

Jonathan Grant, Registrar of FAAM said

It’s an important and long-awaited step which will hopefully provide more assurance for those who have property which contains asbestos and for the general public. Many of the changes have been anticipated and HSE has been exhaustive in consulting over the changes. The Faculty will be reaching out to analysts to offer support and ensure that the standards in the Guide turn into better practice

Speaking on behalf of BOHS, which is the major awarding body for scientists and advanced practitioners in the field, Professor Kevin Bampton commented, “The Guidance will mean widespread change to the qualifications and training that asbestos analysts need. It’s a welcome opportunity for BOHS to work with our many expert training providers to make a difference to the shocking statistics on asbestos deaths.”