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Asbestos management - is there a conflict of interest?

A one-stop shop approach to asbestos management is usually not the best approach...

This is a tough one. If you have a good working relationship with your chosen supplier and they are a one stop shop, why wouldn’t you use their additional services?

The problem with this is that it becomes difficult to demonstrate that you have gained best value for the job and that there was no conflict of interest.

For example, you, as the duty holder of a pre-2000 premises, decide to have an Asbestos Management Survey carried out to ensure compliance (you can read about Why I need an asbestos survey? here). 

Following this, the survey identifies that some remediation work is required. The surveying company introduces their remediation team and they quote for the encapsulation/removal work. The quote comes back and it seems reasonable, so you proceed to having the work carried out.  

All good so far?  

The remediation team has also quoted for any air testing that the work needs and they appoint a UKAS accredited laboratory to carry out these tests.

Currently a conflict of interest exists between the surveying company, the remediation company and the analytical company as they are all connected to themselves and not through the duty holder. 

Instruct a separate company to assess potential Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs)

To ensure that you are getting best value and that there is no conflict of interest, the duty holder should have appointed each contractor directly. 

This is not as complex as it once was. It is perfectly simple to appoint these separately, but once appointed, anyone involved in the job can be copied into emails, to ensure they are fully informed.  

Some years back, we were working on some Asbestos containing balcony panels on a site, when the site agent (who, as it turns out was concerned about a conflict of interest) asked our site supervisor if he could take a look at some boarding in the communal areas of the blocks of flats whilst he was on site. 

He popped over and confirmed that the boarding was superlux and said he could take a sample to ensure that this was formally confirmed.

The flats were having work carried out to the lift and lift lobbies which meant that if this was an Asbestos Containing Material (ACM), it would have to be removed to enable the work to safely proceed. Unbeknown to our supervisor, the client had been quoted approximately £20,000 per block for removal of ACMs in the communal areas. There were 10 blocks of flats on this particular estate, so the final quote was in excess of £200,000. Having been tested, the samples returned confirming that this was not an ACM and that the work could proceed without the need to remove.

Had the duty holder appointed each company individually, this would have been less likely to happen.

Steps to compliance and cost effectively managing a site should be:

  1. Appoint an asbestos management company that ideally carries out asbestos surveys in-house (preferably us Asbestos Ltd).
  2. If the survey returns any positive results, then create an Asbestos Management Plan to ensure that the ACMs are managed appropriately. This can be carried out in-house, but generally is initially created with the assistance of the asbestos management company.
  3. If the Asbestos Management Plan deems that remediation work is required, send the specification to 3 (or more) Licensed Asbestos Removal Contractors (LARCs). The HSE list can be found here,  'Asbestos Licence Holders' and you can search by county to comply with any Environmental plan you may have.
  4. Go through the quotes, potentially with your asbestos management company if you are not yet competent or don’t feel comfortable with doing it in-house yet.
  5. If air testing is required, request quotes from a UKAS accredited analyst. The list can be found here on the UKAS accredited list. (You may need to edit the filters as I have entered Asbestos – Testing - South East.)
  6. Plan the work in and appoint the remediation company and analyst directly. When instructing, copy both into relevant emails to enable them to plan programme dates for the air testing. It is absolutely fine for your remediation company to have a good working relationship with your analyst as it enables them to schedule dates in with each other, to prevent any unnecessary delays.
  7. Gain completion paperwork from both organisations and add the information to your Asbestos Management Plan, to ensure that it is fully updated and still live and current.
  8. Create a location to store all the relevant paperwork for any future reference and to confirm what has been entered on your Management Plan.

By approaching the project in this way there is no conflict of interest as both companies are being appointed directly and paid directly. It also ensures that you own any intellectual property relating to the work.

Obviously, there is nothing wrong with getting quotes from a one stop shop, you just need to make sure that this isn’t the only place you gain quotes from.

For more information, or help with your Asbestos Management, please get in touch either via our Enquiry form or call us on 01634 864550. - we can simplify the process for you.