Beware the Beancounters

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July 2015

Today we’ve just come back from another site where the client is tearing his hair out because he has a survey report that has failed to locate significant quantities of asbestos containing materials.  In this instance, amazingly, over 100 metres of asbestos lagged pipework has been completely missed from the report.  The delays and extra costs involved will be enormous for him and of course he will need to have the survey redone.

Last month we started work on a large quantity of public sector buildings where deficiencies in their existing batch of surveys suddenly came to light.  This has caused great alarm to the staff in these properties.  Our surveys are revealing roughly 20 – 25% of asbestos materials have been completely missed.  These surveys had been conducted by a fully UKAS accredited organisation  (who still hold that accreditation today).  Again, the costs being faced by this client are staggering and it is yet unknown how staff disquiet will play out.

Is there anything linking these two examples?  Yes indeed.  In both instances when the original surveys were tendered, M3 were told that we had not been successful because an alternative supplier offered ‘better value for money’ (this is beancounter speak for ‘cheaper‘)  In truth of course, M3 were actually the ones offering the best value for money.

So what’s the solution ?

You should form strategic relationships with your asbestos consultants and not just select the cheapest supplier on an ad-hoc basis.  You should satisfy yourself that they have enough time to do the work properly. By all means test their costs from time to time by inviting comparative quotes.  4,000 people die a year from asbestos exposure and yet too many people are treating asbestos consultancy procurement as though they were ordering a box of biros.