Nichol Associates

Nichol Associates

Head Office: 0191 438 5432 Training Centre: 0191 4385432

Money no object? So what price a life..when Asbestos training costs just £30

After Premier David Cameron’s surprise announcement last week that ‘money was no object’ when it comes to helping people suffering from this year’s terrible floods, national asbestos specialists Nichol Associates is asking, in that case, ‘what price a life?’ when just £30 can deliver the basic essential asbestos awareness training for those who will have to deliver the clean-up operation.

As those on the Somerset levels and elsewhere are discovering, long term flooding brings with it all sorts of unexpected risks and dangers. After the risk of drowning has passed, comes the danger of electrocution from downed power lines and the risks posed to human health from contaminated water and there is a real risk that asbestos could be a hidden killer contained therein.

“The fact is asbestos could pose a very real risk to loss adjusters and others who at some point are going to have to face a massive clean-up process that has been likened to the blitz,” said Nichol Associates Managing Director, Dave Nichol. “Estimates suggest that asbestos is present in a great many structures including homes, and is believed to be especially numerous in farm buildings, posing a very real additional risk to those affected. Risks that can be averted with the proper training.”

Traditionally used in buildings for its properties of thermal and electrical insulation and high tensile strength, fears over the health risks associated with asbestos led to its use being banned, but this occurred much later than many realise and was only banned outright in the UK in all its forms in late 1999, but the damage was already done. Asbestos remains the single biggest cause of work related deaths in the UK, yet receives such little publicity that its status as a hidden killer has remained intact for decades. Up to 2010, Asbestos deaths for England and Wales stood at 4,132 – an unacceptably high figure. Experts at Nichol Associates believe that far too few loss adjusters have the necessary training to identify the most dangerous forms of asbestos, or what to do about it should they come into contact with it.

Nichol Associates has a full size training simulator to provide a fully realistic ‘hands on’ experience of the situations students can expect to face in the real world when identifying and removing asbestos and have offices throughout the contrary delivering essential asbestos training. If money is indeed no object, then £30 seems a snip in order to benefit from the best asbestos training facilities to be found anywhere in the UK.

While not normally harmful unless disturbed, flood waters can damage the integrity of buildings, exposing asbestos fibres contained in flooring, walls and ceilings and bringing this dangerous material to the surface. Some asbestos fibres are waterproof and can sit on the surface of water, risking being inhaled once they dry out and posing a serious health hazard.

“Our advice to homeowners of damaged properties and indeed loss adjusters called out to them is to use caution when cleaning or searching through debris,” advised Dave. “The problem with attending these sites is that the problem does not come apparent straight away, unless there are obvious signs of asbestos materials being visible in the water, such as external damage to outbuildings due to partial collapse to that building. There is also the issue of trying to clean up items of building debris before water subsides which may lead to fibre release.” The most common high risk categories to watch out for are insulating board (AIB), lagging and sprayed coatings. Lagging was used for insulation of pipes and boilers widely in the 60s and 70s. Cement products were used in many buildings and while usually the danger is caused by drilling into asbestos or otherwise disturbing the fibres, the floods may already have done that.

“Our fear is buildings could contain crocidolite or ‘blue asbestos.’ It’s fair to say this is the most lethal asbestos and only a licenced contractor can work on dangerous forms such as this,” added Dave. “Assessments will be carried out on properties when the flood subsides, and while loss adjusters may have asbestos awareness training, this does not train to decontaminate. What happens when disturbed materials settle and who removes this, how is it removed and disposed of, where damaged materials go when removed by owners are still open questions, but if money is truly no object, perhaps this is more easy to answer.”

Asbestos related diseases can take 20 years to develop and there is no cure. If in any doubt, experts like Nichol Associates has spent years training the next generation of asbestos removal specialists and advising organisations throughout the country on such matters although anyone in any doubt can consult the company’s website at http://www.nicholassociates.co.uk/ for advice.

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