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Currently undergoing a two-year redevelopment programme, Skinners Hall in London has been a complex and very specialist project. It’s not every day that you work in a building with 13th Century stonework and timbers that survived the Great Fire of London in 1666.
“The listed and historic city building has its own unique challenges,” said Luke Perry, Contracts Manager at Environtec. “Making sure that any asbestos is removed safely, without causing any irreparable damage to the building is certainly a balancing act.”
The first phase of the project was an asbestos survey of Skinners Hall, before any contractors could conduct any redevelopment work. The areas where asbestos was found were made secure and contractors were informed that asbestos was present in certain parts of the building.
The second phase of the project has been the removal of asbestos containing materials. By working closely with our client, we have been able to ensure isolations are in place and have liaised with the other contractors so that our works are conducted safely.
“Some of the timbers date back to 1600’s which are grade 1 listed, so it’s not possible to simply remove them,” adds Luke. “Many of the timbers survived the Great Fire of London; so, we’ve worked closely with the removal contractor and our client to ensure these are protected.”
Day in the life – Independent Analyst
We all know that asbestos can be dangerous if not dealt with correctly, but what is it like to work with it day in, day out? We caught up with Grant Litton-Hayes, one of our qualified asbestos analysts, to find out what he loves about the job, and how he works to keep himself and others safe.
How does your day start?
My day starts to the sound of my alarms at about 5:30-6:00am. My first stop is the kitchen for my morning coffee. This gets me through the morning traffic, which is inevitably on the cards. While I enjoy my coffee, I’ll load up the sat nav and investigate the best routes. I get everything ready the night before, so I just have to sling my bag on my back and head to the van, being careful not to wake my other half.
Arriving on site
The good thing about having a small van is that parking is usually pretty easy. Once on site, there might be a site induction, to go through safety procedures. I will also fill in my own Risk Assessment for the site on my portable tablet. Once I’ve been shown the scope of works, I’m, ready to get started. I really like the fact that I get to see different people each day. Sometimes it’s a familiar face and sometimes it’s someone new. New faces mean new stories to hear, which I love.
First site visit of the day
Most days, I’ll have two jobs. They could be at a vacant domestic property or a fully developed commercial construction site. As a qualified independent analyst, I’ll be presented with an enclosure that is ready for 4 stage clearance. This is a relevant certification to be issued upon job completion and allows a site to be reoccupied for further works to proceed. Once I check that it’s safe, I enter a decontamination unit (DCU) to get suited and booted, in full protective mask and overalls.
Next, I have to visually inspect the area, which in my opinion is one of the most important parts of the job. We have to ensure the removal contractor has done the best job they can to ensure all asbestos is removed and the area is left clean enough to eat your dinner off (not literally).
The aim of the game, is to try and find asbestos that may have been missed. It’s rare, but it does happen, which is why we’re here. Upon completion of the visual inspection, I’ll conduct air monitoring and then exit the enclosure into the DCU for a well-earned hot shower. If the air monitoring proves satisfactory, then the enclosure will carefully be removed, leaving a nice photo finish for our clients.
When the first job finishes, I’ll take a break and have something to eat. I’m pretty good and prepare lunch ahead of time to bring with me. Then I’ll set off and travel to the next site.
Always be prepared
What I love about the job is that every day is different. You have to adapt to your surroundings and what has been discovered on site. I work independently, but I know I have a team on hand who I can call if I need advice or support.
I’m usually driving home from London, which means the roads are busy, whichever route you take. It can get frustrating, but the best thing to do is just sit back and go with the flow! I usually get home around by 6pm, just in time for my other half’s amazing dinners. We like to relax over dinner and share stories from the day.
My spare time
I like to keep busy with gaming on my computers and working on my car. Although I like driving, I try to avoid doing too much of it in the evenings. After travelling around 300 miles in a day, spending more time behind the wheel isn’t a good idea.