How to identify asbestos in a working environment

Asbestos was used in construction until the end of the 20th century and can be found in homes, schools, factories, offices, hospitals and more.

Health problems arising from exposure to asbestos kill about 5,000 people each year and leave many more with breathing difficulties, so it’s essential to know how to identify asbestos in a working environment to prevent exposure to airborne fibres.

On this page we’ll look at some of the ways to identify asbestos in a working environment and the strict regulations that mean if you suspect asbestos is present, you should call in accredited experts like hebs Compliance Services to handle the analysis.

How to identify asbestos in materials

If you believe a particular material contains asbestos, the only way to know for sure is to analyse a sample.

UKAS (the United Kingdom Accreditation Service) is responsible for accrediting asbestos analysis laboratories, so look for the UKAS Testing logo and only work with professionals like hebs Group.

An accredited analyst can collect a sample safely, without putting your personnel at risk. It needs to be representative of the material as a whole and must be collected without leaving asbestos fibres in the air.

How to detect asbestos in the air

UKAS accredited analysts can monitor for airborne asbestos fibres in cases where the material has already been disturbed. Anyone doing this must be accredited to International Standard ISO/IEC 17025, so leave it to the professionals.

While it’s important to be aware of asbestos in buildings, it’s crucial to know if asbestos fibres are airborne, as even a small quantity can be devastating if inhaled into the lungs.

The 2012 Control of Asbestos Regulations make it your duty only to hire accredited analysts and laboratories to conduct airborne asbestos testing, so call hebs Compliance Services if you are concerned.

How to survey for asbestos

An asbestos survey can identify the type and location of hazardous materials on your premises, which can then be used to decide how to work around them or remove them safely.

Working with an accredited asbestos surveyor like hebs Group means you don’t need to carry out any extra enquiries to prove their competence, and you can expect a survey report that meets all your needs, legal duties and regulatory responsibilities.

In cases where asbestos must be removed, we can handle the entire process, including safely encapsulating the fibres and taking them away for destruction so they cannot pose a future health hazard to workers or the building’s occupants.

To find out more, contact hebs Group today by sending us an email at info@hebs-group.co.uk or give us a call on 0151 236 0707 and a member of our team will be happy to discuss your asbestos concerns with you.

hebs Flowtech clear ACO grids by hand at Fulwood

Sometimes if you want a job doing well, you have to get your hands dirty, and that’s exactly what the hebs Flowtech team did during a recent callout to Fulwood station.

ACO grids normally prevent debris from falling into the gutter below, but they must also let water through so it can enter the drain.

Over time, silt and smaller materials can enter along with the wastewater, and occasional maintenance is needed to remove this and maintain free-flowing drainage.

Without clearing out the ACO grilles and the gullies beneath them, water cannot drain, which in turn leads it to back up and can cause surface flooding.

Fulwood’s ACO grids had become blocked, so hebs Flowtech engineers got down to it with hand tools to deliver a good-quality finish.

How to clear blocked ACO grids

(Before)                                                                           (After)

ACO grids are an important part of carrying surface water into the sewers. They cover gutters, which in turn empty into drains that take the water underground – but Fulwood’s ACO gullies were clogged with mud and leaves.

We followed a painstaking process to uncover and remove the accumulated silt and debris in the drainage channels by:

  • Removing the ACO grilles to provide direct access to the gutters.
  • Using hand tools to clean out debris and blockages.
  • Jet-washed the outlet to blast away any remaining surface grime.

This three-step process ensures there’s no dirt or detritus left behind. We not only remove the blockage, but also leave the drains looking as good as new.

It’s not just about getting the wastewater flowing – it’s also about making sure the drains, gutters and ACO grids stay unblocked for as long as possible.

We always impress our customers with our in-depth knowledge of the industry.

No time like the present

At hebs Flowtech we provide industry-leading capabilities in drainage, gutter clearance, sewerage and pipeline maintenance.

There’s never a bad time to get blocked drains cleared. You never know when a summer downpour will leave you with a flooded car park, Autumn will soon be upon us so we can expect more wind and rain.

If you want to keep the rain in the drain, where it belongs, call the dedicated hebs Flowtech team today on 0151 236 0707.

The key factors of a Legionella (L8) risk assessment

Premises that have been closed or used less during the Coronavirus outbreak should be have a L8 Legionella risk assessment, especially if stagnant water has been present during the weeks and months of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Many different premises may be affected, from spas and swimming pools, to any building with air conditioning where condensates may have been present in the ducts during recent weeks.

Lack of use during lockdown may mean that water and water vapour that would normally be constantly circulating and being filtered have been left stationary, leading to stagnation and increased risk of Legionella.

This not only includes buildings that have been closed completely, but also those that have been running at reduced occupancy – any premises that have already opened, or reopening in the coming weeks, should be thoroughly checked.

What is a L8 Legionella risk assessment?

L8 is the series code used by the Health & Safety Executive for its Approved Code of Practice and guidance on Legionella risk assessments and preventing outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease.

The duty to reduce the risk of exposure to Legionella falls upon those in control of property, including employers.

An L8 Legionella risk assessment must:

  • Identify and assess risk of exposure to Legionella
  • Manage any identified risks
  • Control and prevent risks where possible
  • Create and maintain relevant records
  • Carry out any related duties

Examples of the conditions that must be monitored in a Legionella risk assessment include water temperature, water storage and circulation, and the presence of nutrients like biofilms that Legionella bacteria could feed on.

PPE in Legionella inspections

A further complication arising from the COVID-19 pandemic is short supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) including disposable respiratory protective equipment (RPE) such as FFP3 respirators.

The HSE recommend the following types of RPE in Legionella inspections, if your usual PPE is not available:

  • P3-filtered reusable half-mask or full-face respirator
  • TH2 or TH3-class hood with powered respirator
  • TM3-class close-fitting full-face mask with powered respirator
  • Air-fed hood or full-face mask with good-quality air supply

If you are concerned about Legionella or you are preparing premises to reopen, hebs Group can help. hebs Compliance Services can assess Legionella risks arising from pools and other standing water, as well as moisture in HVAC systems.

The hebs Compliance Services team will identify all the relevant risks, provide you with a detailed report and ensure all the correct PPE and RPE is used throughout, to ensure you meet your obligations relating to both COVID-19 and Legionnaires’ disease.

Call hebs Group on 0151 236 0707 to book a Legionella inspection for total peace of mind before reopening your premises.

How the Internet of Things (IoT) is revolutionising maintenance

The Internet of Things (IoT) has seen equipment, machinery and devices all over the world given their own access to the World Wide Web, along with a unique identifier so the data they transmit back to base can be organised and monitored.

In doing so, predictive maintenance has been transformed. The Alliance for IoT Innovation (AIOTI) explains: “A company provides predictive maintenance services for products. The products have built-in sensors and communication interfaces. The predictive maintenance service is running in the cloud.

“At the customer premises the product is securely connected to the maintenance service using, for example, the customer’s network or a mobile network connection. The product has a ‘thing identifier’ that is stored in its non-volatile memory and is referenced by the maintenance service in the cloud.”

This allows equipment to be monitored for predictive maintenance needs, from restocking consumables, to fixing hardware errors before they escalate. Here are just some of the powerful applications of the IoT for predictive maintenance.

Wireless intelligence

The availability of mobile network connections and public Wi-Fi means devices do not need a wired connection back to base. Remote assets can be monitored, and the presence of their data signal can itself serve as an indicator of whether maintenance is required.

BMS systems

Building management systems (BMS) and building automation systems can be centrally monitored, configured and controlled, not only enabling centralised admin of predictive maintenance, but also environmental targets and energy consumption.

Smart sensors and monitoring

Smart sensors can automatically detect when an error occurs. That might be a mechanical breakdown, a software error, or some other unacceptable state. Sensors can then trigger a signal back to headquarters – removing the need for round-the-clock manual monitoring of incoming data unless an alarm is received.

Real-time data

The IoT is always-on, providing a network connection or remote data signal is available. Alarms can be transmitted to designated individuals at home via their smartphone, tablet or other device. This means there is no need for an individual to be on-site during unsociable hours, providing someone is close enough to take action when necessary.

Identify condition and repairs

Finally, sensors don’t just tell you when an error occurs. They can also provide real-time updates about the condition of a device, identify exactly what type of error has occurred, and diagnose the kind of repair required. This allows you to dispatch the right kind of mechanic, reducing wasted time and expense, and restoring devices to working order faster.

To find out more about Hebs maintenance services, please contact us today. You can call hebs Group on 0151 236 0707 or email info@hebs-group.co.uk and a member of our team will reply to your enquiry as soon as possible.