Asbestos removal: goldfish bowls
By Paul Clarke-Scholes of Clifford Devlin.
There has been a general trend in the industry towards the use of “partial enclosures”, known colloquially as goldfish bowls, to remove external AIB when found in soffits.
The HSE’s Asbestos Liaison Group (ALG) has published the expected standards for the use of “partial enclosures” when removing external AIB Soffits in ALG Memo 03/12. We believe that there are a number of requirements contained in this memo which are not widely understood by our client base, as follows:
In ALG Memo 03-12 it clearly states that written information needs to be supplied to any occupants or others affected by the works.
It expects the Licenced Asbestos Removal Contractor (LARC) to provide an explanation of the sequence and methodology used and answers to frequently asked questions such as:
- What is being removed?
- Will the asbestos become airborne?
- Why are you removing the material?
- Why are you wearing PPE?
- Should others be wearing PPE?
- Will it be safe when the work has finished?
- Has there been a risk of exposure previously?
Some clients are somewhat reluctant or even resistant to the idea of educating occupants or the public about asbestos for fear of causing unnecessary alarm. This presents the LARC with a conflict of interest. Understandably we want to comply with our clients’ wishes but the HSE make it clear that responsibility for issuing the information lies with the LARC and it will be us holding the prohibition notice if we are found to be negligent on this issue.
Similarly Memo 03-12 lays out guidelines for protective coverings. It states that sheeting needs to be laid to cover the ground to a distance of 5 metres from the building face. This is often not possible, especially in urban areas, where the soffit runs along a terrace of properties, but each has a garden in front and a wall at either side dividing the properties. In these circumstances, we would be duty bound to inform the client that the goldfish bowl is not feasible.
The HSE also provide a detailed list for what constitutes a suitable and sufficient risk assessment. Issues such as gas appliance vents and attached cables need to be considered. One of the principal reasons for proposing goldfish bowls is where in domestic housing there are a large number of similar properties, but, to comply with the memo, every single property will require a specific risk assessment.
Paul Clarke-Scholes is an asbestos consultant with contractor Clifford Devlin.
This is the tenth of a series of blogs which discuss the latest issues in asbestos management.
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