As an Asbestos Removal Operative, I safely remove and dispose of all types of products containing asbestos from various sites around the UK.

Currently I’m mainly working in local council properties, which involves carefully explaining our work and safety requirements to tenants, and most importantly, how we’re going to take care of people’s belongings. All our works are strictly regulated so that they are carried out safely.

All sites are different, so every day is a new challenge, where I am always learning something new.

Case study
Category Information
Based UK
Employer KAEFER

What do you like about your job?

All sites are different so every day is a new challenge where I’m always learning something new. Due to the nature of these works, I also get to travel around many sites during the week, so I’m not stuck in one place all the time.

What’s your working day like?

After picking up my colleagues we make our way to our local depot to load up the necessary equipment and materials that will be required for the day’s work. Once loaded-up and we have received any toolbox talks or safety shares, we will then head to site.

Once on-site the supervisor will carry out a pre-job brief which explains the work for the day and highlights any specific risks - which are noted on our plan of work and risk assessment.

As a team we will all help to unload our specialist equipment and start to construct the asbestos containment enclosure carefully following the instructions of my supervisor, and the details in the plan of work.

Once this is built we will carry out a smoke test to make sure that all joints are sealed and there’re no holes within the enclosure. Once this has been passed we are ready to start the removal works.

Following the company’s transit procedures, I put on my mask and coveralls before going into the enclosure to remove the asbestos. All materials need to be removed using dust control methods of injection, mist spraying and shadow vacuuming. The methods used are highlighted on the plan of work, and through our yearly training. Once the material is removed it has to be double bagged and then placed into a lockable asbestos skip. I then have to carefully clean the entire working area to ensure all the asbestos has been fully removed making the area safe for other trades to follow on after we have done.

Once I’ve finished my supervisor checks my work before an independent analyst also checks the area and runs an air test before we remove the enclosure and hand the area back to our client.

Keep your eyes and ears open to learn from others, but above all else, don’t be afraid to ask.

Kieran McCabe

Asbestos Removal Operative

What skills do you need in your job?

Firstly, good communication and listening skills. You also need to be handy with tools, but this comes with experience. You also have to be able to work well in a team.

I’ve completed a Specialist Apprenticeship Programme (SAP) through the Asbestos Control and Abatement Division (ACAD). The supportive training has meant my company has been able to send me on all types of jobs. Earlier this year I was moved from the social housing work I’d been doing in Wrexham onto university work, as this involved entering into a confined space. This was possible because I’d received confined spaces training from Mines Rescue through the apprentice scheme.

The PASMA and working at height training means that I understand the risks and safety controls when working on the soffit removal works, which we carry out for the local council.

During my apprenticeship, KAEFER made sure that I was given the opportunity to see all aspects of our company and how works were scheduled. Training me in what happens within the office before we get on-site has been a great experience. I also got to spend a few weeks shadowing my manager, which gave me a really good insight into the role.

Above all, it’s been the support and encouragement I received from the lads at ACAD which has really helped me, particularly in the earlier stages, where I picked up some brilliant tips to take back to site. It’s also meant I can speak with residents on the social housing work and explain what we’re doing. Asbestos scares a lot of people so it’s nice to be able to reassure them.

What was your background before starting this role?

I had various jobs, but nothing that I really enjoyed. Then I got the opportunity with KAEFER in 2014 and haven’t looked back.

What are you most proud of in your career?

Definitely winning the first ever ACAD Apprentice of the Year award in 2016.  I’m also pleased with how my skills have developed. I’m much more capable than before I started on the Specialist Apprenticeship Programme.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I want to be at least a supervisor, but will hopefully be a manager by then.

What's your advice for anyone thinking about a career in construction?

Keep your eyes and ears open to learn from others, but above all else, don’t be afraid to ask.