Keynote Close Up: Yvonne Waterman and Jasper Kosters
The Contamination Series is just under three weeks away! Continuing with our theme of getting to know the amazing keynote speakers we have across the event, we’ve invited Yvonne Waterman PH.D. LL.M. and Jasper Koster to talk to us about their stellar work and the future of the industry.
Yvonne specialises in asbestos liability law at Waterman Legal Consultancy. She is a staunch supporter of asbestos awareness and brings this message wherever she can, speaking on asbestos related topics worldwide, making her one of the most clued up and eloquent speakers on the topics of asbestos and asbestos removal.
Jasper Kosters has worked in various aspects of the Dutch asbestos sector for nearly twenty years, gaining a very broad experience. In 2017, he started up his own independent agency, Admanstars, which focuses on asbestos inventory, asbestos management and consultancy.
Tickets are available now, grab yours now at contaminationexpo.com!!
Could you tell us a bit about your current work?
Yvonne: I specialise in asbestos liability issues in the widest sense of the word, both the legal and the communication aspects as they are frequently interwoven. At present, Waterman Legal Consultancy is engaged in liability issues that arise from asbestos in products. It is very satisfying work to uncover the truth and to help clients achieve justice. Also, as the founder of the European Asbestos Forum Foundation I try to bring all kinds of professionals together across borders and sectors during international conferences. They learn about asbestos awareness and state of the art knowledge from each other. Putting very different professions together can lead to surprising insights and happy outcomes. Sharing really does make stronger in the fight against asbestos.
Jasper: I am an independent asbestos specialist. We are specialised in project management, quality checks, asbestos surveys and risk assessments. We provide our services from a completely independent role with the sole interest of a safe and healthy working and living environment. Next to that we see it as our duty to spread the general knowledge about the dangers of asbestos to the next generation of employees. Therefore we provide information about asbestos to schools and their students. Having a partnership with Y.R.K. Waterman Ph.D. LL.M., operating under the name “Asbest&Recht” (Asbestos and Law), we provide a broad support in both legal and asbestos expertise in various conflict situations. Being member of the Board of Advisors of the European Asbestos Forum Foundation, I help bringing together asbestos specialists all over the word, sharing awareness, knowledge and experiences.
Could you tell us about your background/what led you into working in the asbestos field?
Yvonne: When I was writing a Ph.D. thesis on comparative employers’ liability law for occupational accidents and diseases in the Nineties, I was struck with astonishment how many people die from asbestos related diseases and how little society is aware of these deaths. Until then, I had never heard about asbestos; and yet it still is the prime cause of occupational deaths. Delving more into the subject, I was repeatedly warned off by my professors, who saw no professional or scientific perspective in this ‘peculiar’ interest of mine. They didn’t relate to my argument that asbestos is a very real danger that is all around us, It just made me more stubborn. I started attending asbestos conferences all over the world to learn more; and the more I learned, the more certain I became that asbestos is a subject we must deal with!
Jasper: During the internship of my environmental studies I came in across samples which were provided with asbestos warning stickers. Since during my study, literally no more was told than that asbestos was a carcinogenic silicate fibre, this aroused my further interest. So after my internship I started working at an asbestos laboratory. Since then my interest grew about surveys and risk assessments and giving advice to all kinds of companies and private individuals about how to handle asbestos containing materials and asbestos contaminations.
What drives you to do the work that you do?
Yvonne: I have a strong sense of justice, so working in the field of law comes naturally. One of the more satisfying aspects of my work is seeing how asbestos removal work is done up close. I have almost finished a case where the owner of an asbestos demanded, as a dutiful employer, to be allowed to create a scientifically proven safer workplace for his asbestos removal workers than regulations permitted, yet the authorities tried to shut him down repeatedly for non-compliance of the regulations. When you successfully throw yourself practically into the company gates to prevent this, save the company, save the jobs and the authorities make a 180-degree turn then happy days. Now there is every expectation that the legislation will be adjusted accordingly, permitting other asbestos removal employers to also provide healthier workplaces in the same way.
Jasper: It is well known that asbestos is dangerous to people and the environment. For this reason, a total ban has been in force in the Netherlands since 1994 on the use, consumption, processing, trading and stocking of asbestos containing materials. However, in the years that preceded it, huge quantities of asbestos containing applications have been applied in buildings, constructions and installations. Admanstars is committed to doing everything possible to prevent future generations from being exposed to this. The name "Admanstars" is the literal translation of this vision. Asbestos is one of the things we do not want to burden the next generation with.
Could you give us a bit more information on the seminar you will be running with your colleague at the show?
Yvonne: Haha, come and listen! Jasper Kosters and I are planning an eye-opening presentation on asbestos in new products. Because it is remarkable – astonishing really – that asbestos still manages to be part of everyday products. Make-up, crayons, jewellery, spraying grit, green tea (yes, with green asbestos in it), you name it. You wouldn’t believe how easy it is to order asbestos containing products on the internet and have it delivered to your door. How can this happen in plain sight? What does it mean? And what can we do about it? We will have you sitting on the edge of your seat, I promise you.
What plans do you have for the future?
Yvonne: I want to provide a broader base for the European Asbestos Forum Foundation. It needs more sponsors! That is the main aim of the European Asbestos Forum. At present, I am thinking of setting up asbestos awareness classes in trade schools. Because asbestos is just a word to the present generation: young electricians wouldn’t recognise asbestos boards if you hit them over the head with it. Awareness of asbestos dangers is not reaching the people who need it the most. So improving awareness and reaching out to professionals, especially young ones, is a major goal. People often think that asbestos is a legacy of the past, but while exposure to asbestos continues, we are seeing more young persons becoming ill. Eradication and denaturalisation of asbestos need to be the long-term goals.
Jasper: I like to make the next generation more and more aware of the hidden dangers of asbestos in their surroundings. Making the new generation resilient with knowledge and let them ask the difficult questions to the responsible people. Asbestos is not only a problem of the past. It still threatens the lives of people around the world on a daily basis. If I could only make a difference in the lives of just a few people, preventing them of ever getting asbestos related illnesses, it would make all the difference in the world!
We’re very excited to have these amazing industry leading professionals share the stage to deliver what is set to be an interesting and deeply insightful look into one of the most prolific and hazardous materials we know. Be sure to confirm your place at the show by registering your ticket here, and don’t forget to check out the full digital show guide found on the Contamination Series website and plan your agenda to include this exciting seminar!