Assure 360

Asbestos: Britain’s biggest occupational health problem

Britain was the first country in the world to have an industrial revolution, and we were the first to start importing asbestos. We have imported the most asbestos of any country in the world. In fact in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s we imported 40% of the world’s capacity to produce amosite / grunerite.

We have so much asbestos that we can’t remove it all – we have to manage it.

These startling facts were shared by Martin Gibson (HSE) speaking at the European Asbestos Forum in September. They perfectly crystallise the unique situation that the UK finds itself in. The reality that we can’t remove our asbestos – only manage it – is also the foundation of all of our legislation. In essence: assess the risk and design solutions to keep people safe.

Asbestos professionals need unique skills

This takes a special kind of professional – one who is expert in the regulations, but who can see beyond the guidance to the purpose. They need to be able to design practical solutions rather than gold-plate and over specify.

How do you know you’re working with someone with these professional skills? Who can you trust? Asbestos is the biggest occupational health problem the UK has ever seen, yet anyone can claim to be a consultant or expert.

“We are a highly qualified asbestos consultancy firm”

“We are specialist consultants to survey and test any asbestos”

“Leading accredited asbestos management consultancy”

These are all genuine marketing lines promoting the skills and qualities of asbestos consultancies. Do they mean anything? How do we know, what confidence do we have?

The two existing professional asbestos management bodies have never been quite right. IOSH is focused on Health and Safety and BOHS has the whole breadth of Occupational Hygiene to consider. Being chartered in either does not speak to your asbestoscompetence, but there hasn’t been any real alternative

Until now.

Introducing the Faculty of Asbestos Assessment and Management (FAAM)

Finally, there is a home for the asbestos professional. BOHS, with it’s shiny new royal charter has created a new faculty – Faculty of Asbestos Assessment and Management (FAAM). The launch event was back in October last year and the first few full members – myself included – were accepted into the faculty over Christmas.

Now for the first time we have a home. One that insists on the maintenance of professional standards and where failure to maintain those standards will have consequences.

FAAM’s stated principles are:

  • Pursue excellence for all those who practise in the asbestos assessment and management profession
  • Establish, develop and maintain standards of competence in asbestos assessment and management practice for those who are members of FAAM
  • Act as the guardian of professional standards and ethics in the profession of asbestos assessment and management

FAAM will support members with

  • Professional membership grades, depending on qualifications and experience
  • Continual professional development
  • A strict code of ethics
  • Promotion of asbestos expertise as a profession
  • Guidance, advice and positions on common issues and problems – promoting good practice
  • Enable individuals to keep up-to-date with asbestos developments
  • Providing a home for professionals to share and discuss views

To be clear – FAAM will not be claiming that non members are incompetent, only that those who are members, have demonstrated competency, maintain that level and operate to an ethical code.

Membership levels

The levels of membership and the qualifications you need are:


• Level 4 – (one of P401 to P404), S301, W504, RSPH L4, or • Level 3 – RSPH Level 3 (plus written bridging exam) – OR…


• P405 or P407, or

Three from P401, P402, P403, P404, S301 or W504


Certificate of Competence (Asbestos)


• CV, professional experience portfolio (or PEP) and personal interview


… to follow … significant contribution to the profession

Whilst BOHS as a whole has a royal charter the new faculty does not – but there is the tantalising possibility that it might in the future.

The whole concept has excited me since it was first mooted – but I must say getting my acceptance documents through was a thrill and for the very first time there are letters I will be proudly using after my name – MFAAM. I urge all like minded professionals to apply.

Find out more about applying to become a member of FAAM

Tweet  Share on Facebook  Share on Linkedin