Saving up for a Crisis

Asbestos Management can be a bit of a pain.  There are annual costs associated with maintaining it in good condition – regular inspections and remedial works and sometimes it’s no surprise that it slips down peoples agenda.  For a start it never seems to have the immediacy that more sudden injuries or deaths have.  It can be difficult to equate exposure to asbestos that might lead to a death sometime in the future to deaths from electrocution or falls from heights.

So it’s no real surprise to us when some clients start to let their asbestos management systems slip – they see it as pouring money into a black hole and consider it an area ripe for savings.  If we just let it go this time then nothing serious is likely to happen … and then next time …. well, nothing did happen so let’s cut back again, or a bit more.

Yet of course exposure to asbestos is a much more significant threat.  While deaths as a result of falls from heights or electrocutions are in their tens per year, deaths from asbestos exposure run into thousands a year.

So of course, inevitably, something does go wrong and suddenly the organisation is exposed.

bbc story

The questions start pouring in ……

Was the organisation following HSE guidance ?

Was the organisation managing asbestos properly ?

Will they be prosecuted for failing to maintain a safe workplace ?

How will their insurance company react when they find out ?

What reputational damage will they suffer ? – from their own staff especially

What claims will there be from people who believe they were exposed ?

A crisis point is reached.  All those savings made over the last couple of years pale into insignificance as the organisation scrambles to put it’s house in order.

It’s as though they were ….. Saving up for a Crisis

So a message for all you accountants out there who think that putting asbestos management on the back burner is a money saver – think again.  It could cost you a fortune.  In all the jobs I have been involved in over the years the starkest example was an organisation we were working for (known to all of you) who decided to save £400.  That decision cost them over £6 million and lost over 100 people their jobs.

(A recent example asbestos falling off the agenda in schools has just been reported by the BBChere )