Assure 360

Hazardous Materials Expo – what we did, what we learned, and why we’re going next year

Written by Nick Garland on 02/10/2018
 

It’s been a fortnight since Contamination Expo 2018, and those of us that attended, exhibited or spoke have had time to decompress. I say that because, for those who haven’t done an Expo yet, it is something to behold, and leaves you somewhat dazed.

The 2018 event was a big change on previous years. Relocated to the NEC in Birmingham, it was significantly larger, having been merged with the established RWM (Recycle and Waste Management) Expo. Both changes together meant we had to plan our visit a bit more carefully, and had me wondering – would Assure360 be invisible in such a large show?

I needn’t have worried. The whole event was a great success, with our Expo Fringe meet and greet session a particularly positive highlight. Here we got the chance to share drinks, nibbles and a Q&A with customers and new contacts, and the evening evolved into some free-flowing customer feedback. The fact that we’re now in discussions with some potential new customers is a welcome bonus.

Launching Paperless

We officially launched our new app and database solution, Assure360 Paperless, which addresses one of the industry’s biggest challenges. Asbestos removal is hazardous and highly regulated, so licensed contractors need to complete – and record – a vast number of safety-critical checks. Once a project is finished, checking the associated paperwork can take the admin team days or weeks.

The onsite admin consumes hours of valuable supervisor time, but until now the only alternatives have been expensive bespoke solutions usually built on ‘smart’ forms. And while these may save time on site, they’re effectively bits of electronic paper: they don’t reduce admin.

Assure360 Paperless is the Holy Grail for the asbestos industry, solving the admin problem by applying our granular, data-based approach. When any check is converted to data, we can instantly report on just that tiny element – not an entire form. Also, as it’s data, we can automatically sense-check it – massively reducing the admin time required afterwards.

Whilst we are a data company, I am asbestos and H&S, so when we create a solution it’s with a fundamental understanding of the industry. Assure360 Paperless applies our insight, freeing the supervisor to supervise, and increasing productivity throughout all aspects of your asbestos removal projects.

Interested? Discover more about going Paperless.

Talk highlights

At the event itself there were numerous fascinating talks, but two that stood out for me were by Graham Warren from ACAD, and Yvonne Waterman and Jasper Koster of the European Asbestos Forum (EAF).

In their talk on hidden asbestos, Yvonne and Jasper presented frankly shocking revelations of just how much of the material still comes into Europe, despite national prohibitions.The list of sources went on and on, and included items such as children’s toys, electrical goods and jewellery. My jaw dropped at the revelation that China permits products to be described as ‘asbestos free’ if they contain less than 10% asbestos.

If you get any chance to hear Yvonne and Jasper speak, you should take it. I’ll be sure to highlight any future events they’re attending in our events calendar – roll on the next EAF conference, in 2019!

In his talk, ACAD’s Graham Warren had some startling figures for the ‘average’ licensed contractor. By dividing the number of supervisors and operatives in the industry by the number of licence holders, he revealed that the average LARC has about 14 operatives, and seven supervisors. If we accept that NVQs are the industry’s baseline competence qualification, and that going through the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) costs about £1,000 per operative and £2,000 per supervisor, the average qualifications bill works out at a minimum £28,000 per company.

But ACAD has driven through changes in how NVQs are delivered – first and foremost by creating a dedicated training centre, open to all. ACAD provides the centre and the internal QA, but anyone suitably qualified can take candidates through. The new structure looks like this:

New ACAD NVQ Centre structure

This egalitarian structure is a striking change, and it should address the fears of traditional training providers that the big boys will steal their lunch. It also introduces another interesting angle: there is nothing to stop a LARC getting suitably qualified at a local college and taking its own folk through the process. For this to be practical, of course, that LARC would need a detailed and comprehensive competence assessment system – all Assure360 users have this by default.

If an average LARC takes its own staff through the ACAD centre, that scary £28,000 training cost comes tumbling down to only about £7,000. And if that company is a CITB levy payer, it could benefit from grants to the tune of £15,000 – potentially netting an £8,000 ‘profit’ on the process.

All in all, then, the Expo was exhausting, useful and very interesting. We’ve booked again for 2019 – see you there!

Tweet  Share on Facebook  Share on Linkedin
"The moment I saw the system demonstrated I knew it was an absolute must for us. It ticked so many boxes. All the areas that the entire industry seems to struggle with."
Ken Johnson, Managing Director,Delta Services