The short answer is yes, but it’s also true that in the wrong hands many chemicals can be harmful to the user, customer and the environment. This is what the professional users of biocides register is for.
All chemicals used in the UK must be approved for use by the Health and Safety Executive. This approval is only given after a huge amount of work: testing the products and investigating how they can be applied safely.
In truth any chemical treatment can be a hazard if the chemical is misused. There are almost certainly chemicals under the average kitchen sink-unit that are more hazardous than those chemicals applied for treatment of woodworm or dry rot. However, the clear difference is that in the case of woodworm for example, up to 100 litres of chemical fluid could be needed to treat a roof infested by Common Furniture Beetle. Most homes don’t get through 10 litres of disinfectant or 100ml of fly spray a year – never mind ten or one hundred times that amount.
So, even though chemicals are checked for safety before approval, the real potential weak spot, from a health point of view is the application. This is where things need to be right, though there is scope for error and harm if they are not.
The HSE approve chemicals considering their end use. In the case of professional treatments, where gallons and gallons of fluid may be sprayed on or injected into timber, HSE expect that users are professionals.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reference a professional user as: “people using biocides in the course of their job or business, who have received appropriate information, instruction and training in their use”.
In the past customers who required dry rot treatment, or any other biocide application had no way of knowing whether a tradesman or specialist contractor had received this instruction, information and training. Of course, there are web sites galore where specialists claim their operatives are ‘fully trained’ or ‘highly qualified’ but what do these statements really mean? Is the training correct or have the users simply read the instructions and self-certified themselves as ‘professional users’?
All of Brick-Tie’s remedial technicians are qualified under the City and Guilds specific damp proofing and timber treatment NVQ scheme and/or have passed the PCA technician’s exam. This means they are covered on this. But clients don’t read the syllabus for these courses or exams, which cover much more than chemical treatment. That would be time-consuming and as boring as hell.
Therefore, the Property Care Association (PCA) have established a stand-alone register for those users who have passed a test, following training and gaining information they must know, to use chemicals safely. The national register is held by PCA and each user is trained by PCA before testing and being issued with their user registration card.
Our staff are well qualified already, so they don’t need to spend time on attending a Biocide users’ course and sitting a test, do they? As is happens we are firm believers in ‘life long learning’ and ‘Continuing professional development’. This course is about such a basic and important thing; the health and safety of our employees, customers and the environment – of course we attended!
Brick-Tie’s remedial treatment team are all now enrolled on the Professional Biocide Users Register
All our remedial treatment technicians and surveyors have attended PCA biocide user training and having passed the test are registered under the new scheme. Not only that but our general manager; Katrina Jackson and administrator Sian Caley are also trained and registered too.
This means that when it comes to the use of chemicals in your commercial premises or home Brick-Tie know how to work safe. Our surveyors have in effect re-qualified in safe biocide specification and application because there is no harm at all in re-visiting fundamentals. The same goes for our PCAQT technicians and Katrina and Sian who passed their PCAQT some years ago. Yes, even our boss Bryan Hindle, one of the most qualified and experienced people in the remedial industry took time out to go over this again (good job he passed or there would be lots of egg on his face).
Getting the basics right is crucial and we support the PCA’s unique push to improve biocide health and safety outcomes nationwide. Our investment (re-investment) in this training assures everyone that when it comes to safe use of any treatment chemicals, they can trust us not to let them or their family down.
Since July 2015 domestic and commercial construction projects all fall under the above regulations, which are enabled by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This is good because it means that clients, designers and contractors are all responsible for health and safety – working on the basis of the general principles of prevention.
Regulation 8 and 15 have something to say on training and instruction:
General Duties – Regulation 8: any and all principle designers and contractors and thus their sub-contractors MUST have: skills, knowledge and experience and, if an organisation, the organisational capability to fulfil the role they are given. They MUST not accept the appointment unless they fulfil these conditions – Brick-Tie tick all the boxes here.
Duties of contractors – Regulation 15: Contractors MUST not employ or appoint a person unless they have the necessary skills, knowledge, training and experience to carry out the allocated tasks safely. Brick-Tie fulfil these regulations in full.
The main thing to consider when using any chemical treatment is – is treatment really required? We will only recommend and specify a chemical treatment if it is necessary. If monitoring, traditional repairs or merely letting things stay as they are is best for safety and health then, that is where we stand.
Sometimes a biocide is the most effective, economical and sensible approach. So is choosing a qualified and competent, professional biocide user – like us.
Here’s a case study where our technicians safely used a biocide to eradicate a woodworm infestation in North Yorkshire
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