The HSE issued the long-awaited update of the Analysts Guide (attached) in July last year. Several changes have been made that will affect how our laboratory operates when analysing samples that are submitted by our clients. The below are what Westland view as the main changes for the laboratory and the ones that will have an impact for our clients. The changes are going to affect how many samples the laboratory can process during a day.
We anticipate being fully transitioned to the new guidance by the W/C 17th January. We will then operate under the new guidance before we undertake a review of our sample turnaround times and prices in March. Until then we will endeavour to communicate any delays in getting results to you asap.
The HSE now want all negative samples reported as AND (Asbestos Not Detected) rather than NAD (No Asbestos Detected).
Each sample submitted to our laboratory is allocated a point value of either 1 or 2, dependant on sample substrate type as determined in the Analysts Guide. The Current point system allocates, for example, Textured Coating, Vinyl Floor Coverings and Hard-Set lagging two points, whilst all other substrates are classed as 1 point.
In the new updated guidance, all AND samples are to count as 2 points, therefore have been classed to take longer to analyse and placed in the category of more difficult sample types to analyse. Westland have evaluated the sample types that have been submitted to our laboratory over the past 12 months. The evaluation highlighted that an extra 9500 samples would have been allocated an extra point had we been operating under this guidance for the duration of this year. This would have had a significant impact on number of samples a laboratory analyst would be allowed to analyse daily.
The HSE have stipulated that the analysis of an AND sample should take around 15 minutes. This applies even if the sample is known not to contain asbestos (MMMF, Supalux, New Technology Materials, Modern textiles etc). This will inevitably slow down the analysis process. The timing for each sample is required to be recorded, with auditable records maintained. UKAS will review/audit the retained records during our next surveillance visit.
The HSE now expect further sample preparation to be undertaken on all AND samples. Currently if fibre bundles are not identified in a sample, two pinch tests are undertaken to randomly check the sample for fine fibres. To comply with the new guidance further sample preparation must be undertaken if no fibres are identified through the pinch testing. This is dependent on the sample substrate and can be chosen from Acid treatment, Solvent treatment, Further Breaking, Ashing etc. This extra preparation will add more time to the sample analysis procedure.
We have always undertaken reanalysis of samples as per the previous guidance. In the new guidance the reanalysis regime has been enhanced. If an analyst analyses 70 samples during a shift, 5% of the first 40 samples must be checked and 20% of the next 30 samples must be rechecked. The sample points generated by this exercise are then deducted from the next day’s allowance of 70 points. So, although an analyst can look at 70 points during the day, reanalysis could reduce this down to 55-60 points.
We have Currently estimated that the new guidance will reduce our overall daily sample analysis capacity by 30%, however until we have fully implemented the changes, we won’t know the full impact of the new guidance on our operations.
We anticipate being fully transitioned to the new guidance by the W/C 17th January. We will then operate under the new guidance before we undertaking a review of our sample turnaround times and prices in March. Until then we will endeavour to communicate any delays in getting results to you asap.