Over the summer it’s become clear that the Health and Safety Executive’s new asbestos licensing regime is, to put it mildly, challenging. With a switch in emphasis from interview to written evidence, the HSE has moved more of the burden of the licence application onto the companies applying. At the same time, the free-form way in which would-be LARCs can submit their evidence means that the HSE faces an increased and inconsistent workload.
So, for those seeking an asbestos-removal licence under the new scheme, the best advice I can give is to start now. The new process is incredibly time-consuming, labour-intensive and confusing, and to date there has been limited guidance on what and how much you should write. The application form has 14 sections, all of which require you to explain and provide evidence for how you comply with or exceed the HSE’s expectations. This can mean gathering, scanning and emailing off dozens of pieces of paper, but early applicants have complained that the email size limit has been set too low.
Because everyone is providing different evidence, in different ways, in different formats, it’s taking the HSE months to analyse the returns before the Asbestos Licensing Unit (ALU) makes a formal decision. All this delay is taking some decisions right to the wire, with licences coming through just in time – or too late.
It’s hard to overstate the frustration and stress this is causing, so start early when applying. Have all of your documents ready, know what you are going to provide, and organise yourself with folders for every section of the application form. Apply and pay the invoice at the earliest possible moment – and then monitor the HSE like a hawk until you have the licence in your hand.
The tools for the job
But simply acting in good time and having your evidence prepared will only get you so far. With applications still very confusing, asbestos-removal contractors need smart ways to avoid the pitfalls, making the process smoother and simplifying the HSE’s task. That’s where Assure360 comes in: a suite of web services and apps integrated with a secure cloud database, our platform is the perfect tool for demonstrating your effective management of health and safety.
Several Assure360 features give its users a critical advantage in the licence application process. Designed from the ground up to support team working, it ensures that everyone participates in health and safety. Supervisors, contract managers and auditors audit, operatives contribute accident and near-miss information, and senior managers can use it all as the basis for sensible decisions.
Within Assure360, everything is simplified and streamlined. Our secure cloud approach means that everything can be accessed anywhere, by any member of the team, meaning you can enlist additional help when needed. With the powerful workflow feature, you can involve the full team in designing and closing out preventative actions, assigning and re-assigning tasks as you need to.
Assure360’s unique benchmarking reports also allow you to draw on the experience of the rest of the industry. We’re four years into the Assure360 project, and with more than 50 LARCs using the solution we’ve recorded nearly 8,000 audits and an astonishing 21,000 personal monitoring tests. This growing library of observations and the lessons learned are increasingly used to help inform your decisions.
The killer app
All of these features are brilliant in themselves, but they’re particularly powerful when it comes to the licence application. Aside from demonstrating a deep and effective prioritisation of health and safety throughout your business, Assure360 feels like it was tailor made for the new licensing regime: all of the evidence for the complex application can be produced at the touch of a button.
In fact, we’ve even added a dedicated module to guide you through the process. For existing users here’s a link.This will guides you through section by section – with explanations and links to the areas of the system and reports that will help. There’s no more searching for the evidence – it’s all in one place. And because the HSE is very familiar with Assure360, having been through dozens of assessments already, its reports and data are instantly recognisable to those managing the applications, helping smooth the way through the process.
On top of this, Assure360 lets you grant the HSE direct access to your live data. Instead of sending dozens of printed reports, you can simply share links, allowing you to take the HSE on a journey demonstrating interconnected and layered health and safety management.
I’m not a software designer. I’m a health and safety professional, specialising in asbestos. I started in the industry in 1992, and have worked as an analyst surveyor and an embedded health and safety manager. Since then I’ve designed and implemented audit systems, trend analysis, competence systems and personal monitoring analysis for companies around the country.
Assure360 is the culmination of all the lessons I’ve learned. It helps reveal what your data has to tell you about your business. And when it comes to your licence application, it helps demonstrate to the HSE the professionalism and competency of what you do. For those fearing the chaos of licence renewal, it’s the perfect answer.
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