Asbestos was not completely banned in the UK construction industry until 1999, which means it may still be present in buildings constructed before 2000. Asbestos can be found in premises in ceiling tiles, partition walls, fire door panels, fire blankets, vinyl floor tiles and insulation.
If asbestos remains in good condition, well managed and undisturbed, it poses little risk. However, if the material is disturbed or damaged, invisible and harmful fibres can be released into the air and subsequently inhaled.
Exposure to asbestos remains the biggest workplace killer in the UK and is responsible for more than 5,000 deaths every year. Diseases resulting from the inhalation of asbestos fibres include mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. Around 20 tradespeople die every week due to past asbestos exposure. In 2018, 2,446 people died from mesothelioma related to asbestos exposure.
With such a high potential for serious harm, asbestos awareness is crucial, and employees who may be at risk of coming into contact with asbestos need training.
Help keep your premises and workers safe from the risks of asbestos exposure with our IATP Approved Asbestos Awareness Course. Exceeding the guidance associated with the Control of Asbestos 2012 Regulations, it helps organisations meet their legal obligation to train workers who could be exposed to ACMs.
Why you need asbestos training
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 places legal responsibilities on the duty-holders of non-domestic, industrial, commercial and public buildings with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs).
A director, manager or supervisor who controls employees’ work has a legal responsibility to provide asbestos awareness training and information to employees and contractors so they can protect themselves and others from accidental exposure to ACMs.
Failure to provide training can lead to prosecution, legal claims and fines.
There are three main levels of training:
- Asbestos awareness.
- Non-licensable work with asbestos.
- Licensable work with asbestos.
An employee whose work is likely to expose them to asbestos should receive asbestos awareness training so they understand areas including what ACMs are, where they can be found and how to avoid disturbing them.
Among the workers who should receive training via a specialist asbestos awareness course are carpenters, construction workers, demolition workers, electricians, plumbers, shopfitters, gasfitters, plasterers, alarm installers, computer and data installers, general maintenance staff, painters and decorators.
Self-employed workers must ensure that they have the right level of knowledge and training to protect themselves and others.
Employees and contractors planning to carry out work that will disturb asbestos require a higher level of training in addition to asbestos awareness.
How to increase asbestos awareness
As well as a legal obligation for providing instruction and training, employers have other duties when it comes to asbestos awareness.
There is a general duty to manage asbestos which includes carrying out an assessment of premises that may contain asbestos containing materials (ACMs) and undertake a suitable survey. Before any work takes place that could accidentally disturb ACMs a risk assessment should be undertaken. The assessment must establish the risks and who could be affected before formulating a plan of action to prevent and manage the risks.
If asbestos is present in a building the Duty Holder is responsible for ensuring everyone who needs to know is informed and works are controlled, particularly before they start activities that could disturb asbestos. You can use warning signs to indicate that asbestos is present, but typically there will be an asbestos register or survey available and controls to be followed. Landlords and occupiers of non-domestic premises have a duty to display suitable labelling or signs if there are no other preventative or protective measures.
Choosing an asbestos awareness training course
Asbestos awareness training helps managers, supervisors, and employers understand the risks from ACMs in premises, plant and equipment. The knowledge they will gain from the training helps minimise the risk of exposure and reduces potential harm.
When selecting an asbestos awareness course, employers should make sure it provides a detailed overview of how to identify ACMs in the workplace, the health hazards they present, and the steps that need to be taken if a suspected ACM is discovered.
The Health and Safety Executive requires that asbestos awareness training should cover:
- The properties of asbestos and its effects on health, including the increased risk of developing lung cancer for asbestos workers who smoke.
- The types, uses and likely occurrence of asbestos and asbestos materials in buildings and plants.
- The general procedures to deal with an emergency, such as an uncontrolled release of asbestos dust into the workplace.
- How to avoid the risk of asbestos exposure.
Asbestos awareness accreditation
When selecting a course, it is recommended that you look for accreditation and certification from external bodies. This will give you the confidence that the training is delivered by professionals and ensures that you meet your legal obligations as outlined under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says: “Competent providers of information, instruction and training should have adequate practical experience in the asbestos sector and a theoretical knowledge of all relevant aspects of the work being carried out by the employee.”
An example of an accreditation body is Independent Asbestos Training Providers (IATP), which only lists asbestos training providers that have submitted documentary evidence confirming their compliance with the regulations, including independent external audits where necessary.
The best courses are also approved by the globally recognised Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), the world’s largest professional health and safety membership organisation.
Other certifications to look out for include Continuing Professional Development (CPD) which can benefit your employees or contractors you work with by helping them further their careers by improving their skills and knowledge.
Choosing an online asbestos awareness course
With the demands of a modern workplace, selecting an e-learning training provider has many advantages. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says: “Online learning (often referred to as e–learning) is increasingly used as a method of providing asbestos awareness training. HSE recognises the use of e-learning as a viable delivery method, provided it satisfies the requirements of Regulation 10 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and the supporting Approved Code of Practice L143 ‘Managing and working with asbestos.”
Online courses allow participants to learn at their own pace by accessing the course on a web browser and pausing, saving and resuming training at any point. This is particularly useful if you have employees and contractors in multiple locations.
E-learning brings benefits to the employer too. An e-learning management system such as SHINE from Praxis42 is a cost-effective tool for compliance record keeping. It allows you to view and manage employee training records easily. Individual training certificates can be printed as proof of compliance for audits, visits from enforcing authorities or for clients that the organisation may undertake work for on their premises.
Don’t leave it to chance. Our Asbestos Awareness course is accredited by the IATP and IOSH, delivering effective online training to help your employees identify and recognise the risks from asbestos-containing materials in premises.