Assure 360

The very first European Asbestos Forum conference was held in Amsterdam last week and I was lucky enough to attend. The stated aim was to improve professional networks and promote the exchange of knowledge. With the ultimate goal of helping our industry grow into a collaborative one.

I was asked to attend to share my expertise on Competence. My talk was entitled Using Technology to Deliver Competence with the case study of the Assure360 system as a demonstration on how it can be done – more on that later.

The highpoint of the morning session was a very powerful speech by the ex US Assistant Surgeon General Dr. Richard Lemen where he comprehensively debunked the claims from the asbestos producers that chrysotile is non hazardous.

Particular points from his speech to highlight would be:

The WHO figures just released indicate 125,000,000 people are exposed to asbestos every year. It is also estimated that 107,000 preventable deaths are attributable to asbestos. That is one person every five minutes. Even more shocking Dr. Lemen revealed that this figure is about to be revised UP to 194,000 per annum.

Very sobering.

The backdrop of his speech was the fact that many countries do not have a universal ban on asbestos (including the USA!). Some of this is down to commercial and political lobbying by the asbestos producers (notably Russia). Russia produces 2 million tonnes of asbestos annually, half of which it exports.

Whilst deaths from asbestos in the developed world appears to be plateauing, In developing countries it is skyrocketing. I read a stat the other day that India has overtaken China in GDP growth, add to that the fact that they are also the biggest asbestos importer.

He went on to debunk the myth that chrysotile is non hazardous, showing source after toxicological source confirming its carcinogenic nature. The final eye-catching proof was that over 30 times more chrysotile than amphibole fibres have been found embedded within mesothelioma tumours.

As I said, the reason for me attending was to share my expertise on Competence, in short the key points to any good competence system is:

  • Measures the behaviour, skills and knowledge of allemployees by direct observation (from managers down to the individual operative)
  • Must be a continuous exercise not a snapshot
  • Identifies the skill gap between where the employee is and where you / they want to be
  • Delivers this information simply and clearly for TNAs

If a scheme misses any of these pillars it will fall over.

This amount of direct observation takes a great deal of time. Obviously I went into more detail but the solution that makes this practical and achievable is a cleverly designed tablet application synching with a powerful cloud database.

Innovation and the asbestos industry for many years hasn’t seemed to sit side by side. However, the technology session in which I took part, was exciting. Inventions and developments showcased were:

  • A rigid portable enclosure for windowsill removal that eliminates the need to expose workers
  • Web-based mapping of asbestos survey findings
  • A new H-type vac that uses cyclone technology to preserve huge levels of suction,
  • Wet injection for AIB, so the porous rear side of a panel is soaked

There was also a comparative study on the pros and cons of EU national approaches to tackling asbestos. I will do a separate piece on this next week.

The aim of EAF2015 was to improve professional networks and promote the exchange of knowledge. Certainly Dr. Lemen’s speech set the tone – we’re all in it together. The collaborative approach of the subsequent sessions re-enforced this message.

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