EMS have worked closely with a large industrial factory site, based in Gloucestershire for over five years as their appointed asbestos consultants, including project management of asbestos removal.
The large manufacturing base contains a number of mid – 20th century warehouses and factory units. Historic records show that these units contain significant amounts of asbestos. This has been confirmed following more recent surveying and sampling work.
As part of the sites commitment to asbestos management, EMS coordinated a complex asbestos management and asbestos removal project including writing and preparing the specification of works, overseeing the tendering process and meeting with stakeholders to discuss all options available for asbestos removal and remediation. This complex asbestos removal project also required EMS to design a programme of background, reassurance and personal air monitoring testing whilst also following the guidance laid out in the new HSG248. This was to allow some key operations to continue safely on the site throughout the duration of the asbestos removal works.
The asbestos removal project was required in a number of warehouses situated on site, which were currently used for storing stock. The warehouses were open plan in style and adjoin one another. The asbestos contamination was originally detected during targeted sampling ahead of proposed electrical work. Prior to the works, an asbestos survey was undertaken to the high- level beams in the warehouses. Debris was detected on the beams and this was sampled, testing positive for both amosite and chrysotile.
Following this discovery EMS designed and implemented a grid of samples to high level beams, floors and walls across the warehouses, equating to approximately 20,000m2 of warehouse space. The results showed contamination across all high-level beams and on all walls. Contamination was even located on the floors despite heavy traffic.
As the floor space area of the warehouses is utilised on a daily basis for stock storage, an emergency cleaning process was implemented to key contaminated areas at ground level. To ensure vital, low disturbance activities were able to continue safely following the emergency clean of the ground levels, a programme of background, reassurance and task specific personal monitoring air testing was implemented across all the warehouses to monitor any background and airborne fibre levels present. All non-essential activities ceased and personnel relocated.
When the contamination was discovered by EMS, the initial clean was instigated and at the same time, a meeting with stakeholders was held to discuss options, key activities and steps to keep the business running. Interim remedial solutions to keep the key operations running at the site included training for key warehouse staff, clearing pedestrian walkways, personal monitors on operatives three times a week. In addition, EMS introduced clean/dirty zones where equipment, stock or personnel could not pass between without decontamination.
The decision was reached with the stakeholders that a full clean was the only solution, despite the effective temporary management procedures being put in place and working correctly. It was key to meet all key stakeholders at the site and implement and deliver an asbestos removal programme to deal with the high level beam contamination. This allowed EMS to write a detailed specification for removal of all dust and debris in the warehouses as well as disused pipework and included the encapsulation of other asbestos items present in the area. The specification and proposed programme also included extensive measures aimed to keep the areas of the warehouses operational as well as measures to prevent contamination between warehouses and the cleaning of all stored stock.
EMS coordinated the tender process on behalf of our client, including distributing the documents and specification to four licensed asbestos removal contractors. EMS also coordinated site visits with the asbestos removal contractors as part of the tender process which allowed EMS to discuss ideas of how to best tackle the project, highlight welfare solutions, site office premises, location of compounds and supply of power and water.
As part of the tender process, EMS provided answers to all questions raised by contractors within the clarification period. Tender prices were received by EMS for the works with an approximate value of £800,000 for all the works required. With additional works required by the client, this value exceeded £1 million.
The winning project tender had a unique approach which, following agreement with the HSE, changed the way the air flow within the enclosure was controlled, including a reduction on the normal eight changes per hour. In addition, the contractor proposed to use extensive background and personal monitoring to validate the effectiveness of the approach. A visit from the HSE early in the project deemed the control on fibre release acceptable. The HSE were pleased with the setup demonstrated on the site visit and also praised the client and contractor on their management processes.
Task specific monitoring highlighted one task that showed fibre level were elevated. Following quick intervention by our onsite analyst, allowed the asbestos removal contractor to re-evaluate their methodology and ongoing consistent monitoring proved the effectiveness of the amendments to the approach.
The approach to the clearance on this particular project also had to be innovative to fit the unique nature of the project. This was largely due to the vastness of the units in question. To tackle this, the visual assessment (stage 2) was done as a rolling clearance in a live enclosure. EMS asbestos analysts had full face powered masks, face fits and medicals to allow them to enter the live area and assess the areas that had already been cleaned and provide ongoing guidance to the removal operatives. This rolling visual saved a large amount of time on completion, and where a large part of the visual had been completed, only a check to ensure no dust had re-settled was required. The first area of the project alone, took forty pumps to clear.
The project was completed by the asbestos removal contractor largely on time and to budget. EMS’s estimate on the required monitoring and time required for clearance was on timescale and budget. Both the client and asbestos removal contractor were extremely pleased with the outcome, an innovative and collaborative approach to working meant that the minimum downtime was encountered as well as the project being completed in the most safe and effective manner. EMS continue to work alongside our client on other removal projects and ongoing consultancy and management solutions.