Asbestos removal contractors hit back at app blacklisting claims

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Asbestos removal,
© Krzysztof Slusarczyk

The Asbestos Removal Contractors Association (ARCA) has dismissed claims by Unite that an app which rates the performance of asbestos workers could potentially be used to blacklist workers

ARCA has written to Ian Woodland, the Unite union’s national officer for construction, to explain to him the checks and balances built into the asbestos workers system to avoid the risks he claims are present.

The ALFA app is currently only used to rate and provide feedback on agency labour.  Agency workers are frequently used to carry out asbestos removal work and often the competency (knowledge, skills and behaviour) of these individuals is not entirely clear to the company hiring the agency labour.

During discussions with ARCA members, they identified the quality of agency labour as the biggest problem affecting their business.

ALFA is designed to address this problem and give some reassurance to ARCA members that the labour they intend to hire is competent, has the required training and qualifications, have been medically examined, and have had the necessary RPE face fits carried out.

The Terms and Conditions of Use and the Privacy Statement detail that the purpose of ALFA is to provide legitimate and proper feedback on an operative’s safety-critical asbestos removal work.

It is also made clear that the app cannot be used for any unlawful purpose.

‘Unfounded’ concerns

In a statement, ARCA said: “Unite say they believe that a fully qualified workforce can be best achieved through the licensing of labour providers and a fully comprehensive competency skills card scheme.

“ACAD, who have also published negative comments regarding ALFA, have said that if we want quality operatives, we must invest in training them and we must invest in qualifying them.

“However, what support and investment have Unite and ACAD provided to the agency labour to achieve this end?”

So far 12 agencies, over 650 agency labour operatives, and 137 licensed asbestos removal contractors have registered to use ALFA. Over 800 ratings have been submitted.

Over 50 operatives have had 5 or more ratings and have received an overall performance rating, and there have been no other complaints.

“It appears that the app is achieving exactly what was intended and the concerns raised by Unite and ACAD are completely unfounded,” it concluded.

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