Martin Stear is a chartered occupational hygienist, fellow of the BOHS Faculty of Occupational Hygiene and co-runs an independent consultancy. He was an HSE principal specialist inspector from 1993 until 2004.
It’s all too common; a hole drilled, a ceiling tile removed, a wall demolished, cables run and so on. But routine activities become problematic when asbestos is disturbed. It starts with a suspicion, the electrician or plumber becomes concerned about the material they have just disturbed or the employee looks worriedly at the dust on the floor or on their desk. The job stops and matters soon escalate – if it’s a building site, the work stops; a factory or office and staff get sent home; if a school, the school closes.