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How do you get the right asbestos contractor?

It is so important that you get competent contractors to carry out asbestos removal works. Contractors fall into two categories: non-licensed and licensed.

Licensed contractors receive a licence from the HSE to work with licensable asbestos materials. You need a licence if you are going to work on the higher risk materials such as asbestos insulating board, pipe insulation and spray coatings.

The license will need to be approved by a HSE inspector. This is now done online which has caused a lot of disruption and delays. If you are employing a licensed contractor and their license is about to expire, it may be worth contacting them to ensure they have everything in place.

If you employ them to do a job and halfway through their licence expires and isn’t renewed, they cannot trade or work and you will be left with an asbestos enclosure with no work being undertaken.

What do you need to check on a licence?

One thing to check for is additional conditions. There are always a standard set of conditions but sometimes some contractors are given additional conditions. For instance, we know of a company that was required to send in audits every three months to the HSE.

Non-licensed asbestos contractors

There is no policing of non-licensed contractors. There are regulations in place but there is no external body checking that they are okay to do that type of work and they are competent. The onus is on the employer to make sure they are competent.

What should you expect of non-licensed asbestos contractors?

Firstly, have they got the right risk assessment, and plan of works for the type of works that you are planning to employ them for? You need to make sure they have the correct experience and the paperwork to back it up.

That leads on to training. Have they had the right training? They need to have some evidence of non-licensed training. It’s the same for the licensed contractors – they need licensed operative and supervisor training.

You also need to know if they have got the right PPE, including respirators, coveralls and the right equipment for the job. As standard, we would expect them to use a Type-H vacuum cleaner which is DOP tested every 6 months. They should also make sure the waste is disposed of correctly. You should make sure the waste company is also licensed to deal with asbestos.

With a non-licensed contractor you have a lot more responsibility to ensure that these things are put in place.

Insurance companies purposefully exclude asbestos from policies as it can lead to huge payouts. For your peace of mind, you must ensure your contractor is insured.

If the works are notifiable, the contractors also need to put in a notification before work starts. The licensed notice period is 14 days and for non-licensed work it is before work starts so that could be 14 days or it could be the morning of the works.

They also have to keep health records for operatives or anyone undertaking non licensed works and that has to be kept on record for those employees.

In summary – what should you look for in an asbestos contractor?

Look for any accreditations, certifications and ISOs as these build up a picture of legitimacy and gives you some reassurance.

When it comes to insurance, always check that the right amount of cover is in place for your site or project. When asbestos removal jobs go wrong they can cost millions to put right.

We’re a professional asbestos consultancy helping businesses deal with asbestos compliance using asbestos surveys, asbestos testing, and asbestos removal. Please call one of the team, or use the online form to obtain your free quotation. If you would like further information or advice on asbestos and asbestos training, contact the team on 0844 818 0895 or email mailto:info@acorn-as.com

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