UKAS has offered an accreditation service to the UK asbestos industry for many years. Initially this only included sampling and testing but, at the request of the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), the service was further developed to include surveying in 2001 and then the full four-stage clearance process in 2006.
The benefits of UKAS Accreditation in providing confidence in the competence and capabilities of laboratories and inspection bodies has long been recognised by HSE. Over the last decade the Control of Asbestos Regulations have been amended to make accreditation of certain asbestos activities mandatory. Initially this was restricted to fibre-counting, but later expanded to include air sampling and then identification of asbestos in bulk material. The 2006 review of the Regulations ensured UKAS accreditation also became mandatory for the conduct of the full four-stage clearance process.
As UKAS started to develop these services it recognised the need to consult closely with stakeholders. In response to this a steering committee was set up in 2000 to provide advice and guidance on the development of the asbestos surveying accreditation process. Upon completion of the project the value of this Committee was reviewed and it was decided that it would be of great benefit to all if an Asbestos Technical Advisory Committee was established to provide guidance on all asbestos issues: This Committee was established in 2002.
The Role of The Asbestos Technical Advisory Committee
The role of the Asbestos Technical Advisory Committee is to provide technical advice to UKAS on matters relating to asbestos (including sampling, testing and surveying).
In particular its purpose includes providing technical advice on the following:
- The formulation and review of specific technical criteria to facilitate effective and consistent application of UKAS’ activities.
- The acceptability of particular processes and procedures as a basis for accreditation.
- The provision of information relating to dynamic asbestos issues that may have an important impact upon UKAS' services, or could indicate potential areas that could also benefit from UKAS accreditation.
- The identification of potential assessors and sources of assessors.
- The provision of advice on calibration, traceability and reference materials relevant to the asbestos sector.
- The need for and conduct of proficiency testing and interlaboratory comparisons.
- The impact of European and other international initiatives
- The need for the establishment of specialist task forces
The Chairman of the Asbestos TAC is appointed by the UKAS Technical Director for a three-year term and may be re-appointed for a further term or terms. He or she shall be independent from UKAS and the appointment must be approved by the Asbestos TAC membership.
The members are invited by UKAS. They are selected on the basis of having the necessary technical knowledge and expertise to contribute to the work of the TAC, and, when relevant, for their ability to act as representative of their organisation, sector or other interest. The Committee Members represent a range of asbestos stakeholder interests including HSE, HSL, BOHS, RICS, accredited laboratories & inspection bodies and industry representation. Membership is reviewed by UKAS in conjunction with the Chairman at least every three years. Members are required to exercise discretion in respect of information received in the course of their duties as Asbestos TAC members and to treat as confidential any information so marked or related in confidence.
UKAS provides the Committee Secretary.
Decisions on issues discussed by the Asbestos TAC are reached by consensus, i.e. not by voting.
The Asbestos TAC currently meets approximately every 6 months. Provisional dates are normally set at the previous meeting.
The Asbestos TAC may establish sub-committees in order to undertake projects within its terms of reference in specific areas of asbestos activity. The sub-committees may co-opt members from outside the Asbestos TAC membership. The Asbestos TAC will select the Chairman of the sub-committees from within its membership and a UKAS staff member will act as secretary to each sub-committee.
At the invitation of the Chairman, and with the agreement of UKAS, other parties may attend meetings of the Asbestos TAC. On such occasions the minutes shall clearly state the affiliations of the invited participants.
Please review details of future meetings and summary documents from past meetings.