The Journey of a Trainee Asbestos Surveyor.
During my time as a trainee I discovered that on the road to becoming a competent and confident asbestos surveyor I went through what I like to call the 6 stages of asbestos awareness. Not too unlike the 5 stages of grief it is a mental roller-coaster that can be conquered through learning, practical knowledge and a thorough understanding of the asbestos beast in your working environment. I have listed these below for your perusal and amusement.
Upon entering the Asbestos Industry you realise it is a different world which seems to have its own language with words like Anthophyllite that you can’t pronounce let alone spell and were everything is an anagram ACM’S (Asbestos Containing Materials). You will find yourself only understanding half a conversation and having to use Google translator (other translators are available) for the rest. However do not be discouraged this initial confusion will pass with a little book reading and site experience you will be speaking the lingo in no time.
Once the door has been opened on this hidden world it can never be closed. You start to see asbestos everywhere as you realise the prevalence of its use within the fabric of many buildings and materials, from your grandmother’s ironing board to the ceiling in your local gym. You will start to cross paths with people who tell you horror stories of how they were exposed to asbestos and now have lung cancer. This leads directly on to stage 3.
When you enter this stage you find that you cannot stop yourself from asbestos spotting and you feel that this hidden killer not unlike Liam Neeson will find and kill you.
The light bulb moment when all the book reading and training begins to make sense and you start to understand the nature of the asbestos beast, that the danger lies in its disturbance and it can be managed with the correct control measures in place. Disposable overalls and RPE will become your best friends at this point.
The penultimate stage in the process; You are comfortable and confident in your role as an asbestos surveyor, you will have become fluent in the lingo and will even be able to converse with those veterans of the industry who I quote ‘used to play with asbestos as childer’. Your asbestisense which will have been natured through your months of mentorship training will be developing nicely and there will not be anywhere asbestos can hide. You will be able to spot and sample ACM’S with ease, whilst learning and developing every day.
The final stage on your journey comes with the understanding of the importance of your role to the health and safety of not only those within the asbestos industry but the wider general public.
I would like to stress that a P402 qualification does not an asbestos surveyor make, experience and site time is key.