With ISO9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 LCM is used to having our two audits each year from BSI. Each audit last two days and we try to alternate office with site audits. This year we had an interesting audit on-site at a data center on the M4 corridor where we were undertaking a clean of the fuel delivery systems to the standby generators.
It should have been a pretty straightforward job. The scope was to uplift the fuel in the first tank and hold it, remove the tank lid and then undertake a man entry tank clean and inspection of the clean tank. Once complete we had to replace the tank manlid gasket and secure the lid, recharge the tank with the polished fuel once the fuel was well within ISO specification.
However, the chambers were 10 ft deep and quite narrow. The lids had not been lifted in 29 years and in the back of our mind was some doubts over the integrity and nature of the manlid gasket material. Tanks older than 30 years often had asbestos manlid gasket though some also had cork. Those 25 years or less tend to have a composite rubber and plastic gasket that was often pink in colour. So it was not wholly a surprise that when the lid was pulled up using its fill pipe the staff on site said they thought it might be asbestos.
The team then placed the lid on plastic sheeting, soaked the lid in water from a trigger operated sprayer, photographed the gasket and then double bagged it and placed it in a quarantine area. Having notified the client works were stopped.
The BSI audit the became an audit of our management of changed. We carefully took a sample using full PPE and disposable overalls and gloves and took it to a lab in Bristol for confirmation. Wrote a near miss report. Our SHEQ Co-ordinator updated our Job Safety Analysis for removal of asbestos-containing gaskets and we liaised with our client. We found a local Asbestos removal company who attended site to do a site visit.
The facility manager and their client met and agreed our plan and work commenced the following day.
We passed the audit with flying colours and the team on site were praised for the way they handled the incident, their communication with the client and the facility management company and their coolness under pressure.