July 16, 2018

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Giving the asbestos professional a home

There are a host of associations out there dealing with asbestos training provision, qualifications, and guidance – ARCA and UKAS to name a couple – all of which are aimed at the organisation. But what about support for the individual asbestos professional?

This is a question that the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) set out to address, resulting in FAAM, the society’s new Faculty of Asbestos Assessment and Management.

Speaking to a full Occupational Health and Wellbeing Theatre at the Safety and Health Expo 2018, Colette Willoughby, Principal Examiner at BOHS, explained that since its launch in October 2017, FAAM has aimed to provide a ‘home’ for the asbestos professional. Willoughby went on: “A link to FAAM gives reassurance that the professional is good at their job.”

FAAM is for anybody in the asbestos profession – the property manager, surveyors, analysts, etc – and offers different grades of professional membership. There is a requirement for continuous professional development (CPD) in order to develop the knowledge and skills needed within the profession. Members are kept up-to-date with asbestos developments, guidance and advice. November 2018 will see the first two day conference of FAAM, bringing together professionals to address key topics.

asbestos FAAMMisinterpretation of dust

Willoughby went on to talk about asbestos surveys and contamination, noting that: “There is a growing number of contamination areas that crop up regularly, identified through surveys; from debris – obvious pieces of debris that are present, and from dust – which is not always linked to the source.”

Willoughby stressed that asbestos fibres are naturally present in buildings that contain asbestos. Detection does not provide a reliable measure of risk and individual fibres present an inconsequential risk.

She went on to explain that low levels of fibres are often misinterpreted and that can lead to suggestions of ‘significant contamination’ but in the absence of asbestos debris, dust generally does not merit specialist remedial action. And speculative dust sampling is not needed.

She went on to advise sampling if there is a link to a disruption or disturbance, otherwise with suspect debris the extent of any spread will be minimal. In terms of how to sample, Willoughby stressed that the method used makes a significant difference to the outcome. She emphasised how not to collect a dust sample – do not wipe on to tape, wet wipes or filters.

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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