At Core Surveys, people regularly ask us whether asbestos awareness training is a legal requirement for employees and contractors – so we thought we’d answer in a blog.
The reality is that, in many sectors, more employees are more likely to come into contact with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) than you may have realised. And because it’s such dangerous stuff, it’s important that both staff and contractors can identify the potential hazards and avoid the worst effects of handling asbestos-related materials. Asbestos can kill, causes serious illness and leave employers open to the prospect of a lawsuit from a family member or trade union.
There have been many cases of workers, contractors and tradesmen being put at risk because they didn’t have enough knowledge or experience of the issues involved. Sadly, the problems could have been easily avoided with the right asbestos awareness training.
Asbestos training is most vital for anyone who, in the course of their duties, will be likely to be undertaking any refurbishment, demolition or other building work, whether that’s at a residential or commercial site, and those supervising them.
Also on the list are the self-employed who are responsible for their own training, if they are likely to be working on similar jobs.
Why Does Asbestos Awareness Matter?
Asbestos was a common building material that was frequently used throughout construction sites until 1999, when the government of the day banned it since exposure can lead to a number of potentially deadly cancers, including mesothelioma.
Because asbestos was used so often, it’s still present in buildings’ infrastructure – in roofs, insulation, pipes, boilers and elsewhere.
So if your work is likely to bring you in contact with buildings and materials constructed or put in place before the year 2000, without the right training in possible locations of asbestos, you could disturb this substance and release particles while work is being carried out.
The reality is that, as a business owner or employer, you simply can’t afford to start a project without the right asbestos awareness courses to ensure the strongest levels of safety for those working for you, even if you don’t expect there to be asbestos on your construction site.
In fact, failure to provide the right asbestos training is actually a criminal offence.
Which Jobs Particularly Need Asbestos Awareness Training?
We should stress that this list isn’t exhaustive – since it’s almost impossible to list every trade or profession whose workers could potentially come into contact with ACMs.
If in doubt, consider whether the role involves being on a construction site and carrying out refurbishment and demolition or similar work, and would be likely to disturb asbestos. You could also refer to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)’s extensive information about asbestos awareness training, available here.
Its list includes some jobs you may not necessarily have thought of as needing asbestos training:
- Painters and decorators
- General maintenance staff
- Heating engineers
- Telecoms engineers
- CCTV and alarm installers
- Building surveyors
- Demolition workers
Are Asbestos Awareness Training Certificates Compulsory?
Although it’s not a strict legal requirement to hold a certificate related to asbestos awareness, the HSE stresses that employees must be sufficiently trained to identify potential ACMs they may come across during their normal duties.
So, in a nutshell, training and asbestos awareness is required, but it isn’t necessary to hold a certificate or qualification.
What Does Asbestos Awareness Training Actually Involve?
There are three main levels of asbestos training – asbestos awareness, plus non-licensable and licensable work with asbestos. Asbestos awareness courses give the information needed to avoid work that may disturb the material. Non-licensable asbestos training is for those who work will require them to unsettle ACMs, for example by drilling holes or laying cables.
Licensable work is for those who are licensed asbestos contractors.
Those undertaking asbestos awareness courses will not be directly qualified to work with asbestos afterwards, but can expect to learn:
- How to identify ACMs
- The properties of asbestos and its different types and uses
- How likely the material is to occur in buildings and plant and likely places to find asbestos
- Which kinds of products or materials might contain the substance
- Education of the potential dangers, including the illnesses asbestos can cause and the particularly increased risk of lung cancer for smokers
- How to avoid its worst effects and what to do in an emergency after ACMs have been released
- What to do if you suspect you have indeed come into contact with asbestos
- The type of personal protection equipment (PPE) that will be beneficial
Looking For Asbestos Awareness Training For Your Employees?
Here at Core, along with asbestos surveys, we specialise in asbestos training and offer comprehensive asbestos awareness courses which can be set up and completed quickly. We have offices in South Wales and Sussex and cover the London, Brighton and Bristol areas as well as in Kent, Sussex and South Wales including Cardiff and Swansea.
Our high-quality asbestos training is aimed at raising asbestos awareness and highlighting the hazards of this substance in the working environment. It meets the requirements of Regulation 10 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
We run four and eight-hour asbestos awareness courses, and have dedicated training facilities in the East Sussex countryside – but for obvious reasons are currently running all asbestos training online. Get in touch today to discuss what you need.