Asbestos is a problem probably faced by all local authorities across the UK. With thousands of buildings containing the substance in various different forms, the challenge faced by councils up and down the country is how best to manage their own individual circumstances and remove asbestos containing materials (ACMs) where possible as part of ongoing maintenance. Becoming a strategic partner to local authorities and aiding them in the efficient and safe removal of asbestos from their properties is critical to providing a safer housing stock for tenants.

Removing asbestos is often the most simple part of the partnership as Merryhill has been successfully carrying out similar work since 1980. Empathising and communicating with tenants, achieving KPIs set by the customer, dealing with emergency call-outs and working with other specialist trades such as analysts, plumbers, electricians and maintenance contractors is often the biggest challenge. Timing is key, along with great organisation and the ability to prioritise projects, especially when the volumes increase suddenly.

Communication is key!

Asbestos is often a taboo subject, especially when people do not understand the potential dangers associated with different forms of ACM. Communicating with tenants and other stakeholders involved in the process of removing asbestos is a key factor when working in partnership with a council, housing association or local authority. Letting tenants know what to expect in advance of any works being carried out and providing reassurance where necessary is paramount to achieving the best possible outcomes.

Communication with other trades working on the project is another key activity when carrying out asbestos removal in social housing as often it is part of a wider scope of works. Kitchen and bathroom refurbishments are the most frequently attended areas as often these contain the most different types of ACM including Artex ceilings,  asbestos insulating board, pipe lagging and asbestos vinyl floor tiles. Attending site at the correct time is key as often other trades are waiting to carry out their own work once an area has been made safe and decontaminated.

Since winning the framework contract to remove asbestos from social housing stock for Waverley Borough Council last autumn, the statistics so far have been impressive. Aside from the sheer volume of works carried out, feedback from tenants has been very good with very positive comments received each month on our work, professionalism and attention to detail.

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