5 Minutes With Chris Bishop, Managing Director of AT&C Ltd

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Today’s Five Minutes is with Chris Bishop, Managing Director of AT&C Ltd, an NAS Approved Training Provider.

How did you first come in to the asbestos industry?
Like most people – I fell into it. By training I am an analytical chemist (Chartered Chemist) and a Chartered Quality Practitioner (I know my way around quality systems). When the company I worked for closed, I saw an advert for the Public Analyst in Sheffield who wanted a Quality Manager for their analytical laboratory. I got the job. One of the things they did was to survey for and test asbestos in samples, along with air monitoring. My job was to make sure we ‘got the right answers’ – something I hope I’ve been doing all my life. That was 20 years ago, and I still say it’s the best industry I have worked in!

Your Company AT&C (Asbestos Training & Consultancy) are an ‘Approved Training Provider’ of the NAS, how’s it going?
I am delighted to be one of the nine fully vetted/audited Training Providers at the NAS and to have been part of their week long recent ATP campaign.  As a training provider delivering UKATA and BOHS approved courses, to be approved by NAS complements and endorses AT&C and the training we deliver. We are not health and safety generalists but asbestos specialists and so focus purely on what is arguably the fourth most legislated sector in the UK. Since joining the NAS, we have seen the COVID-19 lockdown affect all of us in some way or other and I have written about this which is being published by the NAS shortly – a lot of people have had 3-4 months away and people forget about the real world and the dangers of asbestos.

NAS Members will be reassured to know about your connections with UKATA. Please tell us more…
UKATA – the UK Asbestos Training Association was originally established with guidance from the Health Safety Executive to try and improve the standards of asbestos training generally. From its inception the organisation has developed a system of auditing members’ training materials and competence of delivery, coupled with a CPD programme that all registered tutors have to adhere to. Membership is a recognition of the quality of the service that the client should get. In some way or another, I have been involved with the association from the start (I currently sit as a Board Director), and can attest to the values that everyone prescribes to make it the leading association of training providers and a badge that is instantly recognisable.

What is the biggest misconception regarding Asbestos AND the necessity and reasonings behind undertaking UKATA accredited Asbestos Awareness Training in our industry?

The biggest misconception is “it doesn’t apply to me”. The Construction Design and Management Regulations (2015) and Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 are clear. Identify the hazards – deal with them. In particular for asbestos, regulations exist to protect people’s health.

Regulation deals with training and I quote “employers [are required] to make sure that anyone liable to disturb asbestos during their work, or who supervises such employees, receives the correct level of information, instruction and training to enable them to carry out their work safely and competently and without risk to themselves or others”. The Approved Code of Practice then identifies 16 target groups including:

You only DON’T need it if you are working in new build, or anything constructed AFTER AD2000. Otherwise, you are breaking health and safety law including the Health and Safety at Work Act. I’m sure NAS Members are aware of the potential consequences… it’s not about the financial penalties today – it’s the possible exposure to workers and the longer-term effects.

Tell us more about your links with WE FIT RPE and how Face Fit forms a large part of your work.

I work closely with WeFitRPE. AT&C deliver several types of asbestos training – ranging from basic awareness to courses for those working with asbestos such as plumbers, electricians, and then the Licensed Asbestos Removal industry where they work with high risk asbestos. These last two course types necessitate the need to wear RPE to prevent / reduce the risk of exposure, and it makes sense to try and combine the training and face-fitting into one session. I have known the guys from WeFitRPE since they first started. I know and trust them to do a top-notch job. Paul and Lee are incredibly knowledgeable about the asbestos industry and I know that anyone using them will get a first rate service.

What are your proudest achievements, both personally and professionally?

Personal achievements? I think my wife would say she has put up with me for over 35 years – so that has to be up there. Professionally – I am proud of the work and efforts in my Chartered Chemist, Chartered Quality Practitioner and Fellowship of the Royal Society for Public Health. However it  is the Certificate of Competence in Asbestos (CCP) (‘CoCA’) which gives me the warmest glow. I am one of the privileged few (worldwide) to hold this esteemed qualification.

What’s the most helpful advice you have ever been given?

It has to be never assume that people know what you’re talking about. It’s easy to fall into using TLAs (three letter acronyms) and so forth – so go back to basics, slow down and try to illustrate with examples in simple terms.

What’s the best way for NAS Members to book one of your Training Courses?
NAS Members have access to preferential rates on training with me, so to book this you would need to get in touch with Lorraine, NAS Training Manager initially, on lorraine.shepherd@shopfitters.org.

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