Assure 360

We’re just two weeks into 2024, and 2023 already seems like a distant memory. It was an important year, though, so we’ve put together a quick look back at some of the key things that happened.

For me, one of the key themes of the year was a renewed focus on innovation and research. From FAAM taking an active role in researching working methods and techniques, through to the excellent and highly promising product development and fresh thinking presented at conferences, 2023 showed a lot of promise.

In March, FAAM held a unique workshop on the four-stage clearance (4SC), bringing together analysts and licensed asbestos removal contractors to examine the purpose of the 4SC, its potential conflicts, and how the two sides of our industry could learn from each other.

In October I was delighted to also be involved in a second FAAM project, investigating a new gel-pack removal technique for asbestos-lagged pipework. Both were featured in November’s FAAM conference, where my colleague Cat Holmes reported on the findings and actions from our 4SC workshop.

The summer brought some welcome news, as the government climbed down on the sunset clause initially contained within the Retained EU Law Bill. Had this made it into law, might have seen vital legislation – including the Control of Asbestos Regulations – struck from the statute books at the end of the year.

On a more personal level, July saw Assure360 hit the 15,000-audit milestone – an incredible achievement, underlining the wealth of data and experience behind Assure360 and its user community.

The summer holidays also saw a last-minute announcement that multiple schools would not reopen, while long-standing reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) was assessed. Many schools are still fully or partially using temporary buildings while they wait for affected structures to be made safe. It’s an awful scenario, compounded by the high proportion of school and other public buildings that also still contain asbestos.

The end of the year brought the shock announcement of ACTA – a new trade association with the potential to shake things up – and two highlights of the events calendar: the aforementioned FAAM conference, and the European Asbestos Foundation (EAF) conference. For 2023, another excellent EAF was given even greater credibility by stronger government buy-in – the Dutch state acted as co-sponsor. The presence of policy makers from across Europe added further weight to EAF’s uniquely brilliant approach.

Looking back

As I say, a year of much promise, but in 2024 we need to continue building and improving. Changes driven by the Asbestos Network’s new personal monitoring guidance require us all to adapt – that’s the focus of our free webinar on 16 January.

Beyond that, the EU’s Asbestos at Work Directive, and by the more general push to renovate and refit Europe’s ageing buildings, will require us all to be open and receptive to new ideas. As I reflected at the end of last year, there’s a real danger that we in the UK could be left behind as Europe pushes ahead with better protection for its workers, and continues to be the driving force behind the innovation needed to make that happen. We in the UK must be sure to keep pace.

I couldn’t end without also mentioning our dear friend and inspiration, Mavis Nye, who very sadly passed away in November. I’ll always remember Mavis as one of the warmest people you could ever wish to meet. She led a seemingly miraculous life, being in remission for many years from the hideous disease mesothelioma following immunotherapy treatment. She leaves an incredible legacy in the Mavis Nye foundation, and all she and her husband Ray have accomplished in their campaign for an asbestos-free world.

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"The new system is better. Obviously it takes a few days to get used to the app, but once you do it's quicker. It's exactly the same checks you'd be doing with a paper system, but you haven't got the folder. You haven't got the paper there, it's just done on a small screen. It's made my job easier."
Mark McGonagle, Major Works Supervisor, Asbestech