The 3 Pitfalls of Asbestos Inspection Companies in Melbourne

The 3 Pitfalls of Hiring an Asbestos Inspection Company in Melbourne

Working in the asbestos consultancy business in Melbourne can be frustrating at times. We frequently come across reports by unqualified and untrained people sold to clients as the 'real deal'. The reporting is typically quite poor, misses or mis-characterises risk or asbestos items and may actually  just be a way for asbestos removal companies to drum-up business.

So we thought we would put together this guide for the unwary; here are 3 pitfalls to look out for in hiring an asbestos inspection company and how to avoid them.

Pitfall No. 1 - The Asbestos Removalist Posing as an Inspector

The Problem: Conflict of Interest, Unqualified, and untrained

Be wary of hiring asbestos removalists to make safety assessments. They are unqualified  and have a deep conflict of interest. Even very recently, I've encountered reports by these companies for residential sites that qualify undamaged and sealed,  bonded asbestos materials as being in 'poor condition' and requiring removal (and here's a quote for you). The reporting from these companies is always extremely below the industry standard.

Imagine if you hired a car salesman to inspect your car for safety, what might he tell you? " Well, I wouldn't drive on that axle..." you get the idea.

How to tell - check their website - it will typically offer asbestos removal services. Ask them if they have or their company has an asbestos removal license. Companies that have a removal license are also listed on Worksafe's website, although be careful of this as your only guide, some companies have set up other small companies to funnel them asbestos removal work.

Ask them how long their reports are and if it is an 'asbestos register'. They typically will shy away from producing these kinds of report to stay out of the eye of Work Safe Victoria. If the reports are anything less than 30 pages (its usually 2 or 3!) - lookout.

Pitfall No. 2 - Retired Builders

The Problem: Unqualified and untrained

Also, be careful of companies that employ former builders. Now I've got nothing against builders, some of my best friends are builders, but they're not exactly safety experts; they're more like living examples of what-not-to-do.  Again they are unqualified and typically have never worked for an occupational hygiene consultancy and have no formal safety training or tertiary qualification. They may cite their building experience as their credentials. This actually makes some sense as they are likely the people that created our asbestos legacy.

Builders and especially older builders are the worst people to consult with about asbestos health & safety. Their decades of working in the building industry has typically inured them to safety concerns and they are sometimes very casual about asbestos risk.

The reporting from these companies is usually pretty ordinary to boot.

How to tell - check their website - it will typically offer all kinds of other types of inspections such as termite inspections and dilapidation reports.

Pitfall No. 3 - The 'Burn & Churn' Consultancy

The Problem: Graduate consultants sent out with not enough experience

And then there are the larger consultancies. These consultancies have a high staff turn-over, sometimes hiring people for 1-2 years maximum, under-training and overworking them. They 'burn and churn' through their new consultants and produce fast slap-dash reports by inexperienced people.

How to tell - This ones a bit more tricky - they may look like a good consultancy on the surface and the person you speak with may be very professional and polished. However you should ask them how much experience and what qualifications the consultant that will come to your site has (not the qualifications of the company). If the answer is less than 5 years and does not include at least a tertiary qualification in either engineering, science or ideally occupational hygiene, you may just have contacted a burn and churn factory.

I hope this helps! Happy hunting.