Category Archives: Environmental Risk Assessment

Dust Monitoring

How do you measure dust and why is it important?

Dust Monitoring by Albion Environmental

Particulate Matter (PM) is one of the main forms of urban air pollution, and it mainly includes smokes, soot, and dust. PM is a key indicator of air pollution due to its potential to harm human health. It is often split into PM10 and PM2.5, the latter of which is inhalable (it can penetrate through to deeper parts of the lung compared to PM10, which can only access the lung’s larger airways).

Outside of urban environments, many work activities can create dust, and dust can be an issue in almost any industry. Some of the main industries which can experience dust issues include construction and demolition, certain parts of the food industry, woodwork, as well as waste management.

Waste facilities can generate dust through mechanical grabbers and mobile plants which sort and load waste, and through waste shredding and sieving. Additionally, heavy duty vehicles driving on and off waste sites can generate fugitive dust emissions, which can be entrained onto local roadways. It is important for waste facility operators to minimise the dusts emitted, from and at sites, to avoid legal claims over nuisance. The main motivation for lowering dust generated, should be to protect health.

How can dust affect us?

Dusts come in different sizes, and can be categorized as “inhalable dust” or “respirable dust”, based on their ability to infiltrate parts of the body. Different sizes and types of dusts can have different health effects, though excessive amounts of exposure to any dust can lead to respiratory problems.

If dust is allowed to build up in the lungs, it can cause lung damage, which may result in breathing impairments. Some dusts can be the source of  lung diseases and cancers, and others can lead to asthma, rhinitis, and extrinsic allergic alveolitis. Preventing the onset of dust-related diseases is hugely important, as the chronic effects of dust are often permanent, and can be disabling.

Managing dust in the workplace

The HSE recognises the need to prevent these issues arising by providing plenty of information on dealing with dust at work. Their Dust in the workplace: General principles of protection publication makes it clear that dust exposure must be prevented, or if this is not reasonably practicable, it has to be adequately controlled. If a site’s dusts fall within the definitions of a ‘substance hazardous to health’, then COSHH requirements apply to it, such as the need to assess the risks posed for site staff or visitors, and to ensure exposure is appropriately managed.

If a site monitors the concentrations of dust they emit, or the exposure levels for staff, and finds that there are any health concerns, then they need to implement control measures to mitigate these, at the very least. Control measures for dust can include dust enclosure systems, dust extraction, or water suppression.

Generally speaking, controls should be selected based on the hierarchy of H&S [JB1] controls, which places RPE[JB2]  at the end as a last resort, for example. Sites may also choose to take into consideration the costs, suitability, and ease of application of each control.

What can you do?

Although the UK has a wet climate, the amount of water available could drop by at least 10-15% in some areas by 2050, due to the climate crisis. As such, sites should consider alternative controls to water suppression, or improve their water efficiency through measures such as: water-efficient equipment; harvesting rain-water or re-using grey water; and insulating pipes to prevent leaks. Grants and loans for water efficiency measures can help:

How can Albion help?

Here at Albion, we can provide occupational dust (and bioaerosol) monitoring surveys, to inform you of the risks for workers at waste facilities. This involves one-day visiting the site, followed by a clear report interpreting the results and providing tailored recommendations on how to manage dust in accordance with COSHH guidance.

Albion Environmental has a number of environmental monitoring specialists, trained to complete a wide range of services within the field of environmental monitoring, including those related to air pollution. Find out more about the environmental work we do here:

COVID-19 – Albion Update – 1 Month On!

Well one month on since the lock down commenced, so I thought it would be useful to give an update on what the team at Albion have been getting up to!

We currently have 25% of staff on the government furlough scheme however we are pleased to say the remaining 75% are still working. Like most companies our work and revenue fell off a cliff over 4 weeks ago and forecasts for the next few months are not great! But we remain positive and while we still have work to do and opportunities to follow up, we have been reluctant to put more staff on furlough – after all, when this is all over, we need a robust and sustainable business to come back to!

So, what has been going well:

  • We are continuing to provide environmental monitoring for our clients’ landfill sites. We have experienced some difficulties with labs closing and collection depots but so far, we are able to continue this essential work. Chris Eccles our Site Technician regularly provides lovely pictures which we have used for this post! If you are struggling for staff monitoring resources or meeting your permit requirements, please do not hesitate to contact
  • WAMITAB Training and Assessment Work – Albion was ahead of our competitors and shifted over to an online platform for this work over 5 years ago, so we were already set up to do much of this work remotely. An update on this work is posted here.
  • Planning permission, change of use, WML and PPC applications and modifications – these are all progressing well and much of this work can be completed remotely. We were delighted to receive a change of use permission yesterday for an NHS site to allow them to have a waste transfer facility at their hospital! This work will now progress to securing a Waste Management Licence for the facility. So if you have been holding off on making changes to your site, now is an ideal time to talk to us – please contact
  • Landfill Construction Quality Assurance (CQA) work – landfill sites are continuing to operate as they provide an essential service. Future development and capping of cells needs to continue and we have a number of jobs developing CQA plans. If you have any requirements please do not hesitate to contact
  • Most construction sites are currently closed however we are still offering environmental support to our developer clients with review of 3rd party reports during tender bids and assisting them apply for waste management licence exemptions so that their sites are ready to receive imported soils when restrictions ease and sites reopen.  If you have any requirements please do not hesitate to contact
  • In March we were very busy delivering training and audits to all the NHS boards in Scotland. Once restrictions came in, we quickly transitioned to delivering these remotely, however events overtook as NHS staff quite rightly had other priorities. We are ready to recommence this work either remotely or on site as soon as conditions allow.
  • As part of the lecturing I do at the University of Edinburgh we complete the student project marking for their assignment so this is now fully underway and due to be completed by the end of next week!
  • We are also responding to a number of tenders and grant applications which will hopefully lead to some additional work. There are opportunities out there, you just need to look a bit harder for them!!

Even our staff who are on furlough have not been sitting idle, Yas Watson has volunteered to help the SWITCH Forum and has been keeping the news section of SWITCH up to date. SWITCH (Scottish Waste Industry Training, Competency, Health & Safety) is a multi-partnership forum made up of organisations across all sectors within the resource management industry. The aim of the Forum is to provide leadership by working collaboratively to raise standards of health and safety, training, learning and development, and technical competence and to promote the Scottish resource management industry as an attractive career choice. If you are not already registered for SWITCH please log and register and help share any future posts.

We also had some disposable suits which we use for waste compositional analysis work. As this work has stopped for now, we donated all our stock to a local medical practice which was gratefully received!

And finally as our contribution for Earth Day 2020 on 22nd April all staff have been challenged to support this year’s theme which is climate action. The now easy of option of reducing car use is not permitted and staff are being challenged to be more innovative. Winning ideas will be posted on our twitter and Facebook feeds.

And finally, thanks to all our customers who have worked with us during this difficult period. Thanks also to all our staff who have adapted to new and challenging working conditions.

Stay safe and keep in touch!!

Alasdair Meldrum


Albion’s ABC of Waste Management – N – Non-Hazardous Soil Waste

Albion Environmental provide training and advice to ensure your business is compliant and reduce your waste disposal costs.  Do you produce, manage or handle waste soils? Are you aware of your legal obligations? Find out more and sign up for one of our courses now.

Scotland produces approximately 11.6 million tonnes of controlled waste per annum and approximately 4.3 million tonnes of this is waste soil.

If you produce waste soil, to comply with the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2011 and the Waste Management Licensing (Scotland) Regulations you must:

  • Apply the waste hierarchy to the management of your soil waste
  • Ensure your waste is transferred to someone authorised to receive it
  • Complete a waste transfer note
  • Describe the waste accurately
  • Take measures to ensure that your waste does not cause pollution or harm to human health

While most businesses will have their waste transfer note paperwork, in our experience, many do not fully complete all of the above steps.

Why should you take time to consider this?

  1. Financial Benefits – By ensuring the waste hierarchy has been applied and soils classified correctly you could reduce the volume of waste soil you generate and its associated cost for disposal.
  • Environmental Benefits – You could reduce the volume of material going to landfill, help identify greater opportunities to reuse soils and lower your carbon footprint.
  • Legal Compliance – It is a legal requirement

What Can Albion Do?

Albion can provide those who produce, handle and manage waste soils with a range of services to comply with your Duty of Care Requirements, including:

  • Bespoke training to help your staff understand their Duty of Care Obligations
  • Sampling and assessment of soil waste
  • Soil waste classification in accordance with WM3 Guidance
  • Soil reuse assessments
  • Development of soil management plans

The results of the above will help your business demonstrate it is complaint and can generate significant cost savings.

To find out more or to have an informal chat please contact Andrew Howlett.

Bespoke Soil Classification and Disposal Options Training Course

Soil waste classification and management is a subject that is often not covered within traditional Phase 2 Site Investigation reports.

This can leave those dealing with waste soils (e.g. developers and groundworks contractors) exposed to unknown costs for waste soil disposal and non-compliance with Duty of Care Regulations.

Following discussions with our clients operating within the Construction Industry we have developed a bespoke ½ day course covering the following topics:

  • Summary of key legislation and guidance with regard to the disposal of waste soil and stones
  • Definition of waste in the context of soil and stones
  • Interpretation of site investigation reports – identifying the key issues with regard to soil waste classification
  • Applying the waste hierarchy in the context of soil and stones
  • Soil disposal/reuse options and criteria that need to be met for each option
  • Waste Management Licence Exemptions
  • Waste Acceptance Criteria interpretation
  • Scottish Landfill Tax and the Material Qualifying Order

The course will benefit Quantity Surveyors, Contracts Managers, Technical Managers and Site Managers.

For Further Information, Contact 01292 610428 or

Is your construction business ready to meet SEPA’s new licensing requirements?

SEPA’s new licensing requirements come into effect this weekend, Saturday 1st September, and they will affect all new large construction projects across Scotland.  

What is Changing?

The changes to the regulations have been introduced to reduce the potential risks of pollution to the water environment from construction sites. Discharges of surface water run-off from construction sites to the water environment are regulated, and the changes are designed to ensure treatment systems are in place prior to and during the construction phase. These changes apply to a wide range of construction types, including residential and industrial building, wind farms, forestry, transport, pipe laying, overhead pylons and hydro power schemes. The changes are designed to ensure treatment systems for surface water runoff are in place prior to and during the construction phase.

Work at new construction sites, including land preparation, must not commence, on or after, 1st September 2018 at sites where a licence is required without:

  • Having first obtained a licence from SEPA; and
  • Adhering to a pollution prevention plan for the site that SEPA has reviewed.

As of September 1st SEPA are expecting complete compliance across the industry. David Harley, Head of Water and Planning at SEPA, has stated: 

“We are clear that compliance is non-negotiable”

These licences must be approved prior to commencement of work and the plan must be complied with onsite during the entire construction phase.

Who Will be Affected?

From 1 September 2018 all new large construction projects must have a licence and Pollution Prevention Plan. These should be secured before any work on site commences.

A licence will be required for sites that:

  • Exceed 4 hectares in area;
  • Contain a road or track length in excess of 5km; or
  • Include any area of more than 1 hectare or any length of more than 500 metres on ground with a slope in excess of 25 degrees.

Your Next Steps.

SEPA expect the construction industry to be aware of new licensing requirements and adhere to these by September 1st. SEPA have requested applicants allow up to four months for them to issue an authorisation and consider your pollution prevention plan.  If you have new developments planned for after September 1st, and were unaware of these changes or would like some advice on what is required from your business Albion will be able to assist. Albion can help with the development of a pollution prevention plan and application submissions or provide feedback and assistance with existing plans. If you have any questions regarding these changes and potential impacts to your business, give Albion call on 01292 610 428 or mailto: and one of our consultants will be able to assist you.