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Asbestos backboard removal- Whose responsible?


Hi everyone.

 

Has anyone been through the process of having their electricity meter successfully removed from an asbestos backboard, in order for both to be replaced? 

 

A little context. We have an older style meter which has developed a fault (the readout has gone blank). We’ve had a smart meter installation aborted twice in the last few years with quite vague explanations as to why and no follow up.

 

The fault in the meter has now thrown up some answers as to why the installs were aborted, but having reported the fault, we’ve been sent back and forth between OVO and Scottish and Southern with no one wanting to help or offer advice. 

 

What is the process in these circumstances? I know the backboard is our responsibility but I can’t imagine anyone wanting to deal with the meter without the consent of the DNO?

 

Any help would be muchly appreciated.

Steve-o.

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Best answer by ChristopherS_OVO 3 April 2024, 12:10

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Normally, a meter installation engineer is ‘pre-authorized’ to pull the main fuse without any need for further DNO involvement. In your case, though, both the DNO and the supplier will  have to attend: the DNO to change the backboard and replace the cut-out and the meter engineer to do the rest. Getting OVO and the DNO to coordinate their work will probably be a nightmare, but if if can’t be done, get the backboard changed first. I think ‘new meter required, but can’t be installed on asbestos backboard’ should be a good enough reason for SSEN to change it for you.  

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Actually it depends on the specific DNO if a meter engineer can pull a main fuse or not. 
In this case you are correct @Steve-o that the backboard is your responsibility but it will certainly take some coordination from both DNO and supplier to replace. There will also need to be some additional support for the asbestos removal and disposal 

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Hi @Steve-o,

This is one of the trickier ones to navigate as it may take some coordination like our volunteers advised. It really depends on what is on the board. Are you able to share a photo of the setup that you have and we can take a look?

We have a similar article here that can also shed light on your situation. 

I hope this helps and keep us updated of your progress.

 

Hi guys.

Thank you for your helpful replies. Am I right in thinking I can't get an asbestos specialist in first because they won't be allowed to touch the various units attached to the board? But both Ovo and Scottish and Southern said they won't touch the equipment until the back board is replaced. Is it a question of coordinating a joint visit of Ovo, the DNO and an asbestos specialist to get the job jobbed? If so, who should be doing the coordinating?

I've included a photo for reference, as per ChristopherS's sensible suggestion. 😊

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… Scottish and Southern said they won't touch the equipment until the back board is replaced. 

 

What was the result of submitting your application? They won’t let anyone else touch their equipment, an asbestos-trained technician, for example.

 

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You are correct regarding needing to coordinate all relevant parties for this swap @Steve-o but from the picture, I’m struggling to see the asbestos. 
That backboard looks wooden, unless it has some sort of additional backing

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…  I’m struggling to see the asbestos. That backboard looks wooden, unless it has some sort of additional backing
 

Me too 😉 I rather assumed that it was some sort of asbestos sheet faced with a fire-resistant veneer, since Steve seemed to know what he was talking about. 

 

Ha! I've no real idea what I'm talking about, that's why I came here. 😁

That's the picture I sent to OVO customer services. They said it was an asbestos back board. So, if it's not an asbestos back board, where is the asbestos flagged up by the two engineers who aborted the smart meter upgrades (twice)?

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Ha! I've no real idea what I'm talking about, that's why I came here. 😁

That's the picture I sent to OVO customer services. They said it was an asbestos back board. So, if it's not an asbestos back board, where is the asbestos flagged up by the two engineers who aborted the smart meter upgrades (twice)?

Presumably the engineers have seen something .. it’s just that looking at the photo, it looks very much like my backboard which is definitely not asbestos 

So who knows … 

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I have to admit… I’m not a huge fan of that exposed wire below the main fuse...

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I have to admit… I’m not a huge fan of that exposed wire below the main fuse...

It’s an earth Blastoise, connected to the Open earth bar and connected to the outer shield of the incoming cable. Zero potential

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Looking back at your picture @Steve-o , I wonder if they’ve looked at the white background (wall?) and presumed that was part of the backboard. The engineers might have looked at the notes rather than examined the board fully … just a thought

Userlevel 3
BPLightlog wrote:

You are correct regarding needing to coordinate all relevant parties for this swap @Steve-o but from the picture, I’m struggling to see the asbestos. 
That backboard looks wooden, unless it has some sort of additional backing

Firedog wrote:

BPLightlog wrote:

…  I’m struggling to see the asbestos. That backboard looks wooden, unless it has some sort of additional backing
 

 

Me too 😉 I rather assumed that it was some sort of asbestos sheet faced with a fire-resistant veneer, since Steve seemed to know what he was talking about. 

 

The screws on the board look like they’re aged well enough to indicate the boards been there for a considerable time. We can’t rule out asbestos unless @Steve-o has already had the board/wall tested which confirms it. It may be worthwhile having this tested if you haven’t already to confirm the presence of asbestos. 

If you get the results and they are clear then it would make getting the backboard changed a step easier! 

Keep us updated on your progress with this one I will be following this topic closely! 

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This has led me into a veritable rabbit warren. As far as I can make out*, a meter engineer who aborts a task because he suspects asbestos may be present should complete a report to that effect and hand a copy to the customer. This should also be recorded on the customer’s account, which is why there is presumably a ‘predicted abort’ flag on Steve’s. The report should detail where precisely the nasty stuff is, and the engineer should have left a warning sticker (BP’s engineers have left at least four different stickers over the years), but I can’t see one in your picture. Perhaps you could ask Support if they can send you a copy of the report(s) if they exist.

There is one other avenue to explore: your local council’s environmental health department. A good EHO¹ should be able to advise you how to proceed and might even conduct a site survey if one of his parishioners is at risk.  

*  Source: meteroperators.org.uk/download/asbestos-guidance-document_2019/?wpdmdl=8715

 


 

  1. Strictly off-topic: I had a good friend, a retired gentleman. People were always asking him what he did before retiring, and his answer was always ‘ratcatcher’. I eventually learnt that he had a PhD in biology and been for many years the head of the environmental health department for a large local authority in the whisky belt. He would have come to look at your asbestos-infested meter cupboard.
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Not sure who the DNO is but here UKPN seem to suggest that they would coordinate things .. I have seen different comments depending on region and ownership 

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Not sure who the DNO is …

 

I assumed SSEN, going by “we’ve been sent back and forth between OVO and Scottish and Southern ...” in the OP. 

I had a quick look at your UKPN site and see that they’re pretty clued up as regards this asbestos business. I searched the equivalent SSEN site, but not a whisper about asbestos there. Some DNOs are more equal than others.

 

Userlevel 3

 

Not sure who the DNO is …

 

I assumed SSEN, going by “we’ve been sent back and forth between OVO and Scottish and Southern ...” in the OP. 

I had a quick look at your UKPN site and see that they’re pretty clued up as regards this asbestos business. I searched the equivalent SSEN site, but not a whisper about asbestos there. Some DNOs are more equal than others.

 

I would agree with you on this one @Firedog. When I was reading into this more to get a better understanding I found some DNO better than others. The UKPN site is very clean and clear when setting expectations and explaining next steps but the SSEN site was difficult to get more information from. 

I appreciate you keeping the conversation going and hopefully we will have an update from @Steve-o soon! 

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When I had recent work done by UKPN they asked me to send a short video of the meter area which meant no surprises when they arrived. A very useful idea.

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Amazing suggestion @juliamc. I think with this type of scenario the more detail and information we have the better 🙂

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