One of the UK’s top asbestos experts has been leading the fight against the hidden killer for 20 years – but a nasty accident meant he nearly missed out on his chance to enter the industry completely.
Ian Stone began his career working in a solicitor’s office but he yearned for a role which would take him around the country. When an asbestos company advertised that they wanted a trainee it appealed to Ian’s interest in scientific work and his desire to work on site.
He was thrilled when he was offered an interview but unfortunately, he never got there.
“I was involved in a motorcycle accident and was really badly injured – I was in hospital for two months and had to cancel the interview,”
“Around a year later, after several operations and physiotherapy, I returned to work at the solicitor’s office but, fortunately, fate intervened and the same asbestos company advertised again for a trainee. Thankfully, they remembered me, and I got the job.”
Ian joined the asbestos industry in January 2002 and over the next few years he did everything from working in the laboratories to
Ian went on to run ATAC, the UK’s leading association for the asbestos testing and consultancy industry, for several years and has actively lobbied governments about asbestos in the UK.
Today, he is well known as one of the directors of leading asbestos consultancy, Acorn Analytical Services, and is based in their Northampton office.
With his Acorn colleagues he has developed award-winning systems for managing asbestos, written a best-selling book on the subject and produces educational podcasts to raise awareness about the hazardous substance.
At the end of 2021, Ian also helped Acorn to launch a hard-hitting campaign to tackle the issue of asbestos in UK schools.
Over the past 20 years he has seen different pieces of asbestos legislation introduced and the Health and Safety Executive-run awareness campaigns but, sadly, he feels not much has changed.
“I entered the industry a couple of years after the use of asbestos had been banned and new regulations had just come out which included the duty to manage asbestos in non-domestic properties,” he said. “At the time there was a massive boom because everyone wanted asbestos surveys but over time the interest dropped off.
“Today, some companies do a good job of managing their asbestos but week in, week out we see the same issues that we were seeing in 2002. We still go to premises that have never had an asbestos management survey and don’t have an asbestos register. As a result, at least once or twice a week we receive emergency calls from businesses across the country that fear they have disturbed asbestos and have put people’s lives at risk.
“On average 5,000 people die from asbestos-related diseases in the UK every year and thousands more will continue to die each year if people aren’t educated about the dangers. If you work in a property which was built before 2000 it may contain asbestos, and a duty holder must be appointed to manage that risk.
“If businesses aren’t managing their asbestos, we’d invite them to have a conversation with us. We’re not a charity but I’m happy to have 100 conversations and get no work from them if it means people go away more educated.
“It isn’t a good idea for people to ignore their asbestos – they could end up putting lives at risk and they may find themselves and their organisations being prosecuted.”
For further information visit Acorn Analytical Services or call 0844 818 0895