The Fibres and Minerals Team of the HSE’s Health & Safety Laboratory (HSL) were present throughout one of our removal projects for Landsec in May as part of a research project to assess the effectiveness of control measures used for licensed asbestos remediation.

The HSL selected the five-day project, which involved removal of contaminated asbestos insulating board (AIB) ceiling tiles from a kitchen and storeroom at the vacant former BHS retail unit at Lewisham Shopping Centre in south-east London, as it matched a number of criteria for the project:

“The project was ideal in terms of duration and material type,” said the HSL’s Principal Investigator, Daniel Barrowcliffe, “Clifford Devlin’s site team were very cooperative which contributed to a successful visit.”

Two scientists monitored the entire process from set-up of the enclosures to the removal process, environmental clean-up and four stage clearance. They performed air monitoring throughout to analyse the efficacy of the removal process from a health and safety perspective.

This project aims to assess whether current practices within the industry are sufficient to reduce the risk of exposure to asbestos to as low as reasonably practicable. The information we gathered from this and nine other sites will be used to update HSE guidance for the asbestos industry.

The enabling works including extensive asbestos removal at the former British Home Stores (BHS) site started in mid-March with the refurbishment of the retail unit expected to be completed in early August.

Landsec joined the research project via its membership of the HSE’s Asbestos Liaison Group (ALG). David Tucker, Health, Safety and Security Business Partner at Landsec commented:
“We were happy to volunteer asbestos works we manage for observation and inspection by the HSL. Asbestos remains a key health and safety risk within the property management sector and we are keen to support any initiatives that enhance the safety and efficiency of the removal process.”

The HSL research project will inspect ten sites in total to look at current practices, including the effectiveness of enclosures, respiratory protective equipment and the four-stage clearance procedure. Two asbestos scientists act as observers throughout the removal work. If they see poor practice they highlight it to the contractors. Samples collected from consenting workers are analysed for asbestos fibres.

The scientists carry out personal and static monitoring and, where permitted, take photographs and video work areas, processes, work practices, exposure control measures and note good practice and points of concern. Four sites have been studied to date and the HSE plans to complete the remaining visits by early 2019.

All information and results will be anonymised and presented in a report, which will be available in late 2019.
Landsec is a FTSE 100 company and has been a major investor in the property market since 1944. Landsec buys, develops, manages and sells commercial property, both for single and mixed use, in the leisure, office workspace, residential and retail sectors. It has a £14.2bn UK-based portfolio.

Its retail and leisure portfolio has evolved significantly over the past 74 years and now comprises 1.6m square metres. Projects now mainly involve maintenance and refurbishment on properties built after the Asbestos Prohibition (Amended) Regulations 1999 came into force, which banned the use of asbestos-containing materials in building construction.