ARCA pours cold water on asbestos app blacklisting concerns

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The Asbestos Removal Contractors Association has moved to quash concerns raised by Unite that its new ratings app could be potentially used to discriminate against workers or blacklist them.

The app was launched on 1 September to allow contractors to rate an agency operative’s work. There are nine categories, including PPE, setting up site, controls to reduce asbestos exposure, asbestos waste handling and decontamination. Workers are also rated for their teamwork/communication, attitude, time keeping and presentation.

Agency operatives are rated for their skills in asbestos waste handling as well as their communication and presentation

The overall performance rating is calculated once five ratings are received, with an average rating per category. Contractors can then see operatives’ star rating before that person arrives on site.

ARCA represents nearly half of all licensed asbestos removal contractors in the UK, and says it launched the app to improve members’ confidence in the skills, safety and behaviour of agency workers they hire for jobs.  

“Many of our members have told us that their biggest issue is the quality of labour. That is the competence, knowledge, skills and behaviour,” commented Jason Davy, Chairman of ARCA.

The app raised alarm bells at Unite however, because of the blacklisting scandal which saw thousands of construction workers barred from jobs for reasons including raising safety concerns and their political views.

Unite national officer for construction Ian Woodland said: “Unite is fully committed to the underlying principle that asbestos removal work must be undertaken by trained workers who undertake the work safely.

“Unite fears that in an attempt to ensure competency levels, ARCA has created a system which allows unscrupulous contractors to victimise and blacklist workers who, for example, may have challenged dangerous working practices, giving them a low score when rating their ability.”

Unite’s concerns were that the app may not include “sufficient safeguards to prevent blacklisting and discrimination to occur.”

In the response, Davy said that operatives see the feedback about themselves and they can ask for the erasure or correction of his/her information if it is inaccurate.

“It is made crystal clear that the purpose of it is to provide legitimate and proper feedback on an operative’s safety critical work, asbestos removal work. It is also made clear that the App cannot be used for any unlawful purpose.”

“The information displayed is feedback on essential and appropriate issues such as the use of PPE, decontamination, controlled stripping of asbestos materials and waste removal, it is a long way away from the “blacklisting” situations you refer to."

Full ARCA response to Unite here



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