The age of health and safety and the growing blame culture is making installations become more and more of a minefield. You can’t just go fit a window now. I heard a good anecdote earlier on today. We get told off for not using a ladder when we have to be half a foot off the ground, but rugby players can carry on playing with broken limbs and a bit of vaseline over deep tissues cuts and gouges!
We don’t do that many roofline jobs as we are primarily a window and door company and most people around here know us for that. But when we do land a roofline job, we have found that the last few jobs we have done we have come up against asbestos. It’s like a bus, you don’t get any for ages then you get two jobs in a row with the bloody stuff. Anyway, after downing tools, disposing of it in the proper manner and getting back on with it, we have looked into what the proper procedure and rules are when it comes to dealing with it. Talk about a grey area!
It turns out that we cannot find a single exact rule when it comes to working with or around asbestos. Do we get a professional company in to inspect the property before we go any further? Do we leave it to the customer even though the chances of them knowing if they have asbestos is slim to nothing? Do we dispose of it? Where can we take it? There is very little guidance and because of that it could cause potential problems in the future. What’s worse is that most types of asbestos look very similar, so if an installer doesn’t have a wealth of knowledge on the stuff, it will be very difficult for him to distinguish between what is the really bad stuff and what isn’t.
About a year ago, it became law for installers to have a ‘basic knowledge’ of asbestos. Unfortunately, the legislation doesn’t go any further than that. Ideally, a law which requires installers to know how to deal with asbestos properly and what company procedure should be when you come up against it is needed.
It’s not just the immediate effects of asbestos that needs to be considered. Things like asbestos dust on clothes is a problem. Imagine the issues if an installer came home with dust on his clothes and put the rest of his family at risk unwittingly?! In that scenario should they be all made to wear CIA style jump suits to make sure their whole body is covered?
All this is irrelevant. The way I see it, an inspection of the property needs to be done first before any quotations or work are carried out. Normal window companies won’t be able to do that unless they send all their installers on a course, which will cost. So the inspections would be left to the professionals, which I reckon would cost over £100 before any further work may have to be done. Imagine trying to sell that to a customer! All this in the effort to make that you as a company and your installers have your backs covered and done as much as you could to keep everyone involved safe.
But if asbestos rules do get tougher, is it going to put people off from having the work done? Imagine all companies having to explain to the customer that there has to be an expensive inspection first before anything moves further forward. It’s going to have two possible effects. First, it could just simply stop people having the work done in the first place. Or worse, for companies into over-cladding over the old roofline and causing further problems to the rest of the roof!
So, as I said, total grey area!