SHP Editor Mark Glover speaks to the winner of last year’s SHP Rising Star Award, Jake Newell, about what it felt like to achieve one of the sector’s most coveted accolades, and how his work as an asbestos analyst continues to motivate him.
This year, according to figures from the HSE, 5,000 people in Britain are likely to die prematurely from asbestos exposure. For Jake Newell, these numbers serve as a daily motivation in his role as Asbestos Analyst at Acorn Analytical Services. “I could potentially be saving lives and preventing people from exposure to asbestos,” Jake tells the Safety Conversation Podcast. “I just want to make sure that work is carried out safely.”
Asbestos was used extensively as a UK building material in the fifties, sixties and seventies and is still in buildings today. However, those exposed to its fibres (most commonly by those in construction), will not develop symptoms until 10-40 years later. Its use wasn’t banned until 1999, a year later Jake was born. 23 years on he was recognised as SHP’s UK Rising Star for his work in combatting asbestos, an achievement he still finds hard to believe. “I was just over the moon,” he says. “Knowing that my company had seen my hard work and put me forward, it was just like a really good feeling.”