Assure 360

My experience is that personal monitoring is much misunderstood and therefore underused tool in the box. Often given lip service, ignored completely or done in a huge rush in the 6 months before license renewal. When it isn’t overlooked it is rarely used in a way that is of much practical use. Certainly the asbestos management databases that I have seen out there don’t seem to handle the data in any meaningful way.

Exposure monitoring should not be seen as another regulatory requirement that must be complied with, but rather an excellent way of auditing removal techniques and therefore designing better ones.

Other than ‘Error’ (test results representing something other than what was stated), measured exposure significantly above or below that anticipated indicates one of the following:

  1. Something went wrong on site and the method was not followed
  2. The selected method was followed, but it was inappropriate for the real task at hand
  3. The anticipated levels are artificially high or low due to poor understanding of the process
  4. Excellent innovation by the Contracts Manager (CM) in designing the method
  5. Excellent innovation by the site team

All of these events should be investigated – 1 & 2 as something went wrong, 4 & 5 because there is good practice to pass on. In fact 1 & 2 should be treated as an accident/incident and closed out as such. Measured exposure ‘at’ the anticipated level could be viewed as a near-miss.

A well constructed Excel sheet can process this data adequately, but a database would make the extraction and investigation a smooth joined up process.

Obstacles to the process that I have come across are – actually doing the personal monitoring with regularity and enough spread to cover all activities, the site team (‘we’d get in trouble if we gave them a high reading’) and the analyst themselves (too high limits of detection and vague/non-existent description of the activity tested). The last two can be solved by education.

Properly collected and collated data could then inform better research (at company or industry level) in areas that might make a big difference to the lads in the enclosure. This isn’t meant to be a shameless plug, but it’s worth mentioning that we designed the system to help with this. We felt the most important elements to design in, must cover:

  • Refined down to type of Asbestos Containing Material (ACM)
  • Form (ACM itself, debris, residue etc…)
  • Fixing
  • Activity (removal, encapsulation, waste runs, enclosure construction / dismantling etc…)
  • Influencer (supervisor / CM)
  • Date, address etc… to help with investigation.

So that was our attempt at scoping a solution, aided by anonymous benchmarking tool to compare your results against the industry. That way, the exercise becomes a pro-active tool to improve standards, rather than just to predict exposure more accurately.

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