In this episode Neil and Ian talk through a recent asbestos project. They talk through how the client was help, what the project was, and lessons learnt. Transcript Ian: Welcome to Asbestos Knowledge Empire. I’m Ian Stone. Neil: And I’m Neil Munro. So today we are going to talk about a bit of a case study review over how we’ve helped an individual client. We are going to sort of not mention the actual client names just for confidentiality reasons but we thought it would be a good case study to sort of give you information and what’s possible when it comes to helping clients manage their asbestos risk. Ian: I’ll set the scene there was a massive refurbishment project being undertaken at this site and… Neil: Multi million pounds. Ian: Yeah it was. It was like a few hundred million pounds overall. Neil: Yeah, and it was essentially sort of included demolishing most of the site. However, maintaining and retaining the actual structure in one section of this building. Ian: Yeah, they were kind of iconic pieces, iconic sections that needed to be kept for asbestos purposes. Ian: Yeah, it is part of the project over the years a certain amount of asbestos knowledge and information are being gathered. I mean, when we first went in… Neil: There’s different surveys as well. Wasn’t it? Lots. Ian: Yeah, different companies, different surveys. Different findings even. Neil: That was a big highlighting factor at the beginning wasn’t it? It was kind of like the client had multiple, multiple surveys, Type 2 surveys, management surveys. Ian: Type 1s even. Neil: Yeah, refurb after refurb after refurb, and when we actually sat down and look all the information, every single report had something different in it. Ian: Yeah, it did. It really did. And that’s where we started. It was like we’ve got this project coming up, alright certain bits are going to be knocked down, certain bits are going to be retained so, and that was the first port of call for us of sit down, we’ll do desktop study, so we got all the information, electronic, paper copies, everything. We kind of just laid it all out. Lock ourselves in a room for a few days and just read, literally read everything and make notes as we went of… I don’t know. Neil: Cross reference the sections. Ian: Yeah, any discrepancies of stuff that appeared with in our minds, stuff that didn’t make sense of I don’t know. But like within reports, so there were stuffs that said certain things have been removed yet the following year that area has been surveyed and the findings was it was still there. It was all just a mismatch really. So yeah, that’s what we did originally to kind of sit down and get our heads around it all before proceeding with anything. And then only when we kind of had that information had did we then kind of proceed and the next step was to do a new refurb and demo survey in line with what the client actually wanted this time around. So we didn’t discard the old information. We took that forwards. Our surveyors took it on board, they took that forwards and appreciated what the issues where on site that were known and also the stuff where there was question marks above. So what we did, we completed that survey. Again, when you compare the final survey report back to the previous stuff, some of the stuff we agreed with, of yes it had been removed and it had been removed well, other areas there was asbestos that should have been removed but it hadn’t been removed in its entirety and there was still debris and residue and stuff like that there. And then, there was also even additional findings that nobody had found before. Neil: Yeah, I think if I just interject in there. This is where we sort of lesson learned on. Now this is a massive client, it is a massive site but essentially they didn’t really have hold of the asbestos management. There were no key individual on that site managing the asbestos. Ian: There have been people over the years that had tickled it… Neil: Project teams. Ian: …that dabbled it. Yeah, there was not one particular person who was like. Neil: Overriding, controlling the asbestos register. A person who was commissioned, a one person who is commissioned in the surveys so they have to grip on, okay that project over there is doing something, I’m in charge of the refurb survey. That project over there is doing it, I’ve got a grip on what they are doing on the surveys they are having, and then feeding back in to that one place. So really, no one really had a grip on. Ian: They weren’t responsible. There wasn’t a responsible person. Neil: Yeah, and like you said that project would have some removed. They have a project didn’t get that removed but that information didn’t collide and didn’t come back into a central point so the actual asbestos register could be updated. And that’s kind of where it went wrong. Ian: It did. Neil: And that’s where it kind of if you don’t get this thing right you leave yourself open. Ian: Yeah, and that’s it. There were lots of information there which is great but it was been of a shit shaped. Neil: It was a case of I think they kind of knew yeah we are going to have asbestos survey. We are doing some asbestos survey. And that kind of the method that they have followed and thought they were complying. Yeah, we run a survey, and it was kind of survey after survey after survey after survey. Ian: Which was right but it wasn’t in line with the overall management. Neil: No. Ian: There wasn’t like the forethought of it was blink is on of this little project that’s all I’m getting sought for. Neil: That’s all I’m doing. Yeah, I’m might care for this project. I’m not thinking about the management. Ian: No. Neil: And that’s kind of where that went wrong. Ian: It did and that’s kind of when we are brought in and that was what we took charge of for that of there are elements of the project that were happening in other areas and stuff but it all got brought in under our kind of watch if you like. Neil: And definitely those projects they weren’t thinking about management ongoing. They just sort of blinking in those projects so they are paying out maybe for encapsulation and removal works within a project but that didn’t really fit with the ongoing management of the location, the area, the site as a whole. Ian: Yeah, the bigger picture. Neil: And they have probably spent thousands and thousands of pounds. Ian: All over the years. Neil: Unnecessarily doing surveys, unnecessarily doing remedials. Ian: I’d go as far as say millions over the years on… Neil: Doubling up on staff. Ian: Yeah. Neil: Not getting it right. Doing it once, twice, three, four, five, probably you know… Ian: Once, twice, three times. Yes, so when we completed that we had the asbestos information. We knew exactly where the client was at. We knew what issues that we are going to face with what the plans where and all the rest of it, so sat down with the project team, discussed everything and kind of forged the way forwards with regards to what needed to be done to get the project completed but also the forethought in mind of what the sight is going to be looking like once it is all completed, and how the management on the site is going to work afterwards. So we help the client with the specification for the removal and the repair of the asbestos that was needed and that was very very key because, again, they were looking at it from the point of X equals Y. And it is like, yes it does on the basic level but without the bigger forethought of, well, if I do this yeah that makes it safe or whatever but then it is like well that is part of your project. And then you go to the next person in the project and they sit and go, “Yeah, you made it safe but now I need to drill through that or that’s when the cable roof was going, or, or, or. And it was like, just having us all in that room just discussing the end project as it like one rather than each individual. That was really good from our point of view and the client’s because that helped us sort out the correct specification. Neil: Yeah, that emphasizes my point again of you do need somebody who has taken hold of, take in charge of your asbestos because you need that person fighting the corner for the nest management of the building because most importantly when you’ve got multiple project teams within a site and an organization. You know, the project managers, all they worried about is their project. And you need that individual who’s holding the flag for, “No that is not right for the management of the building. We need to do X, Y, Z.” Ian: Yeah, definitely. So once the spec was kind of all bottomed out, we help the client tender, the contractors. This was massive. This was a few million worth of asbestos removal. We are on site for two and a half years I think in the end. It wasn’t kind of a small project by any shape. And for that so once it was tendered the contractor kind of proved themselves, put the right package together, the right kind of program, we discussed the project with them essentially in with the clients and make sure that they understood what we understood and the outcome of what they were thinking was going to be the same outcome as what as the client had set our goal out to be. Neil: And that is the biggest point to highlight isn’t it. It’s when you go out to contractors and ask them for quotes for asbestos removal, generally speaking they’ll give you the price that they want to give and the project and the removal works that they want to give and they think is best for, not necessarily you, but more to them, how the job is properly done. Ian: And then went in to work. Neil: And then went in to work whereas where you start the frontend is we always go into and the way that we project manage asbestos removal works is with the client’s end result at the forefront. Ian: Yes, what is the endgame, what is the end result look like? What does that actually mean at the end? Neil: And then work back from there rather than go, I need that remove in and then we’ll make it fit to the management which is the wrong way. Ian: Definitely. So we started on site. Like so we were on site for two and a half years or so and again just from other projects in the past we’ve learned lessons. And again, we’ve put all it the kind of this of we put a dedicated team in place for it, so there was a dedicated contracts manager dealing with the client and make sure the site guys were kind of on point. There were senior staffs on site leading the project. Again, who were doing the same making sure everything was all good. And then we kept consistency with the analyst and the project managers that run that project. I mean, two and a half years of being on site, sometimes 24/7, is difficult to do. You can’t put somebody to work 24/7. And we would never want to because people get burnt out and people kind of fall out of favor with the industry, and the job especially on big projects. Neil: Yeah, definitely. I’m not a fan of… Ian: We talked about this the other day. Neil: I’m really not a fan of 24/7 work in any industry but particular with asbestos. And it is led by contractors. Contractors go, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.” They’ll do whatever. And we find ourselves pushing back a little bit because I’ve done so many 12-hour shifts to any 4 hour work in and we don’t get the quality work for 24/7. Ian: It is not cost effective. Neil: No. Ian: On paper it looks cost effective because you get two 12-hours shifts a day, literally around the clock working and therefore the project hits brought in quicker. However, in reality that is badass. Neil: The night shifts do half the work the day shifts do and then you get the battle between the two. Ian: Even like the day shift, like it is a 12-hour day, you get 8 hours work for 12 in the day, and then for the night time you probably get 6 hours work for your 12 hours. Neil: It burns the guys out as well. Ian: Not only the analyst and the project manager, also the supervisors and the operatives. Especially on large big projects because people get kind of snow blind with it. Large scale removal is one thing but kind of when you talk about like environmental cleans when you’re picking up minor dust and debris in huge areas, huge spaces, it can be kind of a little bit of soul destroying because you are not removing anything as such. It is not like right, there is a ceiling, now the ceiling is gone or there is a wall, now the wall is gone. It is like the whole clean through. Yes, it looks better than when you started but there is no kind of, I don’t know, real big line in the sand of what you’ve completed. Neil: Yeah, and that’s when you start getting the full length out between the day shifts and the night shifts. It is like the next shift comes in and go, “What have we done today?” I just think it is really counterproductive. If any think, if you need to do some, if you did two shifts just normal hours at most but generally speaking if you just do a project one shift a day it always works better. Ian: It does. And also with that it’s like you then get the consistency. Neil: Yeah, the same people are coming in day in and day out. There is no double shifts and you are responsible for that area and you get it done. Ian: Yeah. The same people are in charge. The same people carry that responsibility, that weight. There is no kind of jerk and they say, “Well, I didn’t do that bit” or whatever. It is like, well, it is your project so it’s you. Five days a week, everybody gets a break at the weekend. And do you know that is a big thing with the asbestos industry. I get it. Clients do need stuff sometimes out of hours, 7 days a week, all the rest of it. However, if projects are properly planned. I mean, take the construction industry as a whole. They work Monday to Friday and that’s it. Generally speaking that’s what happens with refurbishments, buildings. Neil: Yeah, even building a new house. They don’t work the weekends unless they are running behind sometimes or whatever but as a rule… Ian: They still get a break in the week. It is not like 7 days and that goes on in the asbestos industry. I’ve known projects sort of happen where the analyst on site for like 60 days straight without a break, and the supervisor on the site 60 days straight without a break. It is like, in fact, nobody can work that. Neil: It is ridiculous and you can say, well you can mix it up or anything but then if you start mixing it up with different people you then lose the consistency. So for instance, you know, if you’ve got a big long clearance or you’re on a project, the contractor will come to the analyst and they are asking questions of, “What do you think about X, Y and Z?” The analyst will give you an answer. You take that analyst of and you get a new one they might have a different opinion. And that’s when you get conflict, he said, she said. Ian: Throwing that off against each other. Neil: Yeah, exactly and you just lose that consistency. So, yeah, it just works so much better, normal shifts, normal hours Ian: When you’ve got a dedicated team. Neil: Dedicated people on there, having breaks, having regular breaks. It just works so much better. Ian: It does. Neil: When you double up you don’t get double. Ian: No you don’t. So projects were completed. There’s all sorts of kind of issues and things along the way. It is you’d expect on something that’s like a few. It is not going to be an easy ride. But we all work together, and again, that was key of the client was on board with us from the beginning. The contract it was on board with us from the beginning and we all worked as a team. There was nobody kind of pushing for hidden agenda or for extras or anything like, it is not right. Look, we all understand where we’re at. This is the end goal. This is what we are going to do. Neil: Yup. How can we work together to make sure that this project works smoothly. Ian: So after we did that everything was all in place, everything was all good, and then essentially that building was handed back before it was the point of being recommissioned. Neil: Just wanted to talk what sort of materials were are we talking on this project. Ian: Everything. Neil: Yeah. Ian: Literally everything. Neil: What predominantly. Ian: There was insulation residue, there was insulation to pipes, there was... Neil: Spray coatings around with that. Ian: Yes, spray coating. Again, spray coating sections, spray coating residues, spray coating on the ceiling, spray coating on the walls, spray coating on the floor. Neil: You know, this was, if you are talking about asbestos removal it don’t get much more complicated than spray. Ian: It was probably the largest, most complicated project that’s happened in the asbestos industry for the last 10 years I’d say. It was huge and it was very complex. Neil: And from an analytical point of view it really you do have to be on the [unclear – 15:33] as well because a bridge or an enclosure when you’re removing and dealing with spray coatings. You’re going to get high fiber count and possibly exceeding the control limit in those areas. Ian: Exactly, yeah. Neil: You really do need to be experienced on all of that in monitoring structures. Ian: Spray coatings, it is the next level. It is like the top end of asbestos. Neil: Yeah, it is like 80%, roughly 80% asbestos content makes with a Portland cement binder but… Ian: Kind of. Neil: It will be confused on a cement binder. It was just literally sticking material together so it’s highly friable. Ian: The second you touch it millions of fibers are released. Neil: Yeah, how would you describe it? Not cotton wall. Ian: That’s what I’m going to say. Neil: It’s this spiky cotton wall. Ian: Imagine if you get a load of fiber glass and stick it on a ceiling. That’s probably the closest. Neil: Yeah, with a kind of wet look to it. It is not wet. It is dry and it is easily damaged. Ian: Easily damaged and releases lots of fiber. Neil: Yeah, easily releases asbestos fiber from minimal disturbance. Ian: So yeah we like to say once all that was sorted and the building was at the point of being recommissioned. We then worked with a client on a management plan for anything that was remaining on site and again we sat down with the client, all the different departments because I did lots of different stuffs at site and discuss each and every person’s individual requirements to make sure that the management plan fitted all of them. Neil: And works for everyone. Ian: Yeah, because there is no point in having a management plan in place if it is not working. Neil: Object then clearly. Ian: Well, the biggest things that we kind of faced was like the contract to control and external people coming to site and making sure that the information was disseminated to them properly in an orderly manner and each and every time, because there were different kind of routes and avenues that other contractors would come to work on that site because there are so many different departments, different areas. Neil: Yeah, and the key thing was naming those responsible individuals putting them into the management plan and then making the other people aware of who they were, who was responsible for the asbestos management at the site and ultimately who the duty holder was and it’s having that cascading information that disseminates out to all parties, all departments throughout the business, so that was really sort of the good thing for them moving forward and having that responsible hierarchy that control it and has got a stir on how they are going to manage the asbestos within that property on a long game basis. Ian: And that literally hits the nail in the head from how when we went into the project, how can kind of sparse and kind of disjointed it was to how it is now. There are nailed people, there are processes in place that they have to follow of we’re knocking this wall out right. Well, they have to submit a works order through a certain department that then sign off on it and make sure that the asbestos survey is undertaken by their retained consultant which is us rather than every time they can go enough and get who they wanted which that’s what happened before. So now the site there is still a hell lot of asbestos on that site the difference is though it is being managed in a nice... Neil: Yeah, they’ve got grip of it. Ian: Yeah, they’ve got a grip of it. It is being managed in a nice straightforward manner. Works happen. Their contractors will go and help them annually. Will do the re-inspection at the areas that we need to, and yeah, it’s just managed a hell lot better. It is not a stress anymore. I think looking back it was always disjointed, bit of a mess, but of a stress, whereas now they’ve really taken on board what asbestos management means and how to manage it which is just part of the process now. Whereas, before it is always an afterthought but now they kind of… Neil: Now they got to do something. Ian: They are in line with our mantra, “Asbestos first not last” Neil: Exactly that. Ian: And it has made their lives so much easier, costs have been kept down because there’s no last minute .com, there is no breakages of asbestos that shouldn’t have happened. Neil: No doubling up on staff, no getting surveys for, a second getting the survey done because that’s what you got to do because you’ve already got the information. Ian: See that’s what it. I mean I’ll just going to run through the lessons learned just a quick run down really. So for me the early engagement between us and the client was great because it gave us the full information. We then carried that through the specification stage and then the contractor on board right that early stage is great. So the desktop kind of started that off and then when we moved in to the works, the key accounting, again not just ensured continuity because everybody knew what they are at every day. There was no kind of, like Neil said earlier, he said she said kind of thing going on. Neil: Yeah, handing over. Yeah, changes are, that is a real pain on the client. Ian: Whenever you got issues of people. That’s the biggie. Human interaction with anything cocks it up. So by having no same people made it run smoother. Neil: Definitely. Ian: Like I said the full partnership working literally taking on is a full partnership between us, the client, and the contractor. Just getting any side issues out of the way, getting everybody on the same page, that was massively important because the site was so complex and we really did need everybody on board. And it started with a client, the site was really complex. They had like I said lots of old information and, I don’t know, there was stuff on the site where it was just random places they didn’t have plans for. However, that knowledge was still within the client because they’ve work there for so long. Neil: Yeah. Just to add to that it was really good to get the teams together as in the removal contractors, asbestos consultancy and the client because sometimes if you have conversations without the three parties the contractor [unclear – 20:57] to understand what we really expect and what we would want to see for the four stage clearances , the standards that would be required at the initial stage before even starting the works. Ian: Rather than getting into the clearances whether you do want come in and have a look. It was like no, no, everybody knew where they are at before we even started the race. Neil: Exactly that. We are working to the same agreed goal and that really does make a big big difference. Ian: It does. And then like I say finally that kind of final thing of sitting down with everybody who was going back into the building and how they were going to move forward in that building again kind of the liaison and agreeing with all the parties, how it is going to work, and working together to get their asbestos management sorted. So yeah, that was really, really, it is an amazing projects to be part of. I’m really proud of what we did there and what we’ve achieved. Neil: Yeah, it was a good one. Ian: It was huge and it was all good. Neil: Yeah, that’s the most important. Ian: It was interesting as well. Neil: I think it is the problem solving. It is the end, yeah, okay we did a good job on site but what is more important really, now, the client is left with a hassle free asbestos management. And that’s more of it. It is not a headache. Ian: They haven’t got a headache. No. Neil: We’ve removed that asbestos headache for that client which is that’s the big thing for us. So yeah, I hope you found that useful. Don’t forget if you’ve got any questions that you want to cover on the asbestos knowledge empire please contact us in the Facebook community. Come and join there. Get access to myself and Ian. Ian: If you got questions about a certain project you’ve got coming up or an issue or anything, again, just… Neil: Just pick our brains. If you want to pick our brains, what would you think to this, is this a good way to go or not. Ian: We’re not going to charge you for it. We’ll have a chat. That’s what we’re here for. We want to share the information and the knowledge so that asbestos management isn’t a headache and people are likely exposed. Neil: And if you do like this podcast we’d really appreciate a bit of a rating, hit the subscribe button, 5-star rate would be excellent. We’d really appreciate that. That’s it from us remember, asbestos first not last.