Improvements in HSE Licence Award Consistency

Posted on 26th July, 2016

We attended the ARCA Quarterly Trade Association meeting in July, where we learnt that there have recently been challenges with maintaining consistency in asbestos licencing. 18 teams carry out the licencing process, in which there are a total of 60 HSE inspectors who conduct licencing assessment interviews throughout the UK. Some of these offices are conducting up to 44 licence assessments per year, and some as little as 3 so . There has been highlighted recently that there are variations in licencing terms which vary from office to office. As of November 2015, 258% of licenced asbestos removal contractors held 3 year licences, 91% held 2 year licences, 34% 18 month, 31% 1 year and 33% were new 1 year licences. You can see this information detailed in the pie chart below:

Total licences by term 1


When a contractor first applies for a licence, it will almost certainly be a 1 year licence, following which approaches to giving out longer licences varied considerably between HSE teams, some only recommending no more than a 2 year licence and others giving a 3 year licence.

The HSE have since been trying to improve consistency with asbestos licencing. The Asbestos Licencing Unit (ALU) now provides a performance summary to inspectors, which highlights areas for the inspector to focus on during licence interview. There have been standardised questions and activities that the inspector will ask during the interview, for example a description of the same scenario and being asked to detail how they would approach the site visit.

Health and Safety Executive

Following the improvements, the amount of data reviewed has been increased, now considerations are given towards Training Needs Analysis, Personal Monitoring and Audit findings. The amount of evidence that the contractor has to provide upon assessment has been significantly increased.  

The quality of personal monitoring has been called into question by the HSE in recent months and improvements were certainly needed, but it will take time for contractors to develop processes and procedures for personal monitoring to be developed. NIC are currently of putting into place personal monitoring processes and procedures, which will include all operatives being equipped with personal monitoring equipment so we can take and record regular readings.

Training Needs Analysis is also relatively new concept, used to assess the organisations training needs, using knowledge, skills and attitude based training to meet the company’s objectives. NIC have already a robust TNA procedure, utilising appraisals, workshops and additional training courses so that our operatives have the best skills possible to carry out their work with confidence.


As a result of the improved consistency, recent analysis shows that 3 year licence recommendations have been significantly reduced to 71% and 1 year and 18 month licence terms increased.

Total licences by term 2

It is seen as commercially advantageous to hold a 3 year licence, and the HSE are certainly now more rigorous in their licence interviews and assessments when awarding a 3 year licence. NIC have been praised by the HSE for all our processes and procedures, including training needs analysis and following up on audit findings. We have consistently held a 3 year licence for the past 30 years. To view our current asbestos licence please click here .

Sources: Asbestos Removal Contractors Association, Asbestos Licencing Group, HSE



If you'd like more information about this news item please contact Sarah Costello at NIC

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