Asbestos management case study
Emchia Asbestos Solutions was founded in 2016, and has quickly grown to become a major provider of asbestos services. Despite being a relatively new company, Emchia’s management team represents decades of experience, with managing director Luke Gumbley an industry veteran of more than 18 years. Today, Emchia operates from offices in Preston, Coventry and London, providing asbestos removal, land remediation and soft strip services for major clients across much of the UK.
Since its inception, Emchia has aimed to provide – and become known for – the high-quality of its services. A core strategy for growing the business was to use modern technology to reduce the administrative overheads and increase the efficiency of the business, allowing Luke Gumbley to focus the company’s resources on achieving the best outcomes.
In starting a licensed asbestos-removal contractor (LARC) from scratch, Luke faced a common challenge. While Emchia couldn’t perform licensed asbestos removal until the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had granted it an initial 12-month licence, even getting to that stage required significant investments of time and money. As with other licensed asbestos-removal businesses, it was essential during the first year that the business performed as it said it would, and that it kept the records it would need to prove this to the HSE.
It’s often said that keeping an asbestos-removal licence is harder than gaining it, so at renewal time, LARCs such as Emchia need to be able to prove that the processes they described in the initial application have been implemented properly and remain effective. And with the HSE’s recent switch to an online, evidence-based system, businesses need additional guidance on the appropriate information and examples that the HSE needs, and how they should be presented.
From the outset, Luke chose to improve the efficiency of his business and gain greater insight into its performance through Assure360. “We had the software since we first set up the business,” he explains. “We used it for the audits and the personal monitoring. It helped us when we were setting up to keep the cost down, because we didn’t need a person in the admin team doing those tasks for us.”
As the Assure360 system has expanded, new features and apps have further helped Luke to streamline the business and ensure it performs to his exacting standards. Emchia signed up to the Assure360 Paperless app shortly after its launch, immediately reducing the paperwork burden for supervisors, and for Luke’s back office team.
“It’s user-friendly for the guys – they prefer it as it’s reduced the time they spend on inspections right down, giving the supervisor more chance to actually supervise instead of completing documents. They can get their checks done fairly quickly first thing in the morning, then they’re free to manage the site instead of having their heads buried in a folder of paper for a couple of hours.”
Crucially, Paperless allows Luke to take a daily view of the checks and activity on site, ensuring that all the equipment and processes are working as they should be. This helps Emchia avoid a major drawback of the traditional paper-based approach, that minor issues tend to stay on site until the paperwork returns to head office. “If that happens on a three or four-week job, you’ve kind of missed the boat,” Luke explains.
Assure360 has been instrumental in supporting Emchia through its initial asbestos-removal licence application, and during two subsequent renewals. After just 12 months of operating, Emchia so impressed the HSE’s inspectors that it was granted a two-year licence. When this approached its expiration, however, the business found itself among the first to experience the initial problems with the HSE’s revised, evidence-based renewals system.
“I completed the online form from start to finish,” says Luke. “It took me about four weeks and I think I’d still be there now if it wasn’t for Assure360! There were a few teething issues at the start of the new HSE process because their communication wasn’t the best, and I think over the first few months it was hard for applicants to know what evidence to present, and how to present it.
“While I was doing it I thought it was the worst thing in the world, but with Assure360 the information I needed was at the tip of my fingers. I leaned on them, asking where the information was and how to present it, and they were great – even sending me links to the actual information for my business, which I could then share with the HSE.”
Emchia completed the process, gaining a three-year licence with no conditions. “Now I’m done I’ve come around on the new system,” adds Luke. “It’s helped me understand my business more and given me confidence that we’re doing exactly what’s required. Emchia is now set up perfectly the way that the HSE wants it to operate, and I can clearly see that, and I can clearly show them the proof.”
What the client said
“Every decision that’s made, whether it’s commercial or health and safety, I’m in touch with that site through Assure360. My time’s been freed up quite a bit, so I get more time to go out and manage the jobs.
“Assure360 helps me see where we can save money, or where we can do things better or improve slightly in the future. Ultimately it helps me earn a better margin doing better quality work – supporting the key way in which we’re growing the business.”
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