How do I choose the right asbestos training company?
With asbestos being such a dangerous substance to be in direct contact with, you will hopefully already appreciate – as someone reading this – the importance of ensuring you are suitably trained to work with this naturally occurring fibrous silicate mineral.
Indeed, whether work that you intend to carry out will definitely involve some level of contact with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs), or merely presents the risk of encountering asbestos fibres, it is crucial to ensure you have received appropriate training beforehand.
Regulation 10 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR 2012) makes clear that every employer must ensure their employees “are given adequate information, instruction and training where that employee is, or is liable to be, exposed to asbestos, or if that employee supervises such employees.”
A need for asbestos training, though, means an associated need to decide on the most suitable source of such training. And the task of choosing an asbestos training company will necessitate you considering such factors as the exact nature of the work you will be doing with or around asbestos, as well as course content, accreditation, price, and much more.
So, how can you be sure of selecting the asbestos training company that represents the best match to your own needs? Below, we have explored many of the key factors to guide your decision-making.
- 1 What are the three types of asbestos training?
- 2 What to look for in an asbestos training company
- 3 Take care and prepare well to make sure you choose a suitable source of asbestos training
What are the three types of asbestos training?
One of the first decisions you will need to make in relation to asbestos training, will be on the type of asbestos training required. This will depend on the work the given staffer is set to undertake.
If you are an organisation seeking out asbestos training for its employees, it will be your responsibility to arrange for the training. This means it will be your duty to assess the risks to which your workers will be exposed, so that you can plan suitable training in line with this.
The following are the three broad types of asbestos training. They differ in terms of the exact level of knowledge they provide, so each category of training will suit a different set of circumstances.
Asbestos awareness training (Category A)
Category A asbestos training focuses on giving workers a fundamental level of asbestos awareness, so that they can be well-informed on the risks. This type of training, then, is aimed at people who do not directly work with ACMs, but who nonetheless may be exposed to the risk of asbestos fibres.The idea behind Category A asbestos awareness training is to make workers aware of how they can avoid asbestos risks, so that they can minimise the likelihood of potentially disturbing asbestos.
So, for workers such as construction and demolition workers, plumbers, roofers, or plasterers whose activities will not involve them intentionally working with ACMs, but who need to carry out work in a building where undisturbed asbestos is present, this category of training would be sufficient.
Non-licensed asbestos training (Category B)
It is important to remember that if you know the given worker will work directly with or remove ACMs, it will not be enough to simply give them Category A training.Indeed, for circumstances in which the worker will be carrying out what is known as non-licensed and notifiable non-licensed work (NNLW) – which entails directly working with or disturbing ACMs in some way – a greater amount of information, instruction, and training will be essential.
This is where Category B asbestos training comes in. It prepares workers who undertake non-licensed work and NNLW to do so safely if they are required to work with or disturb asbestos.
This form of training generally encompasses control measures to help lower asbestos risk, as well as the safest ways of working, personal protective equipment, waste handling, how to understand risk assessments, and emergency procedures. It should also help workers to know when non-licensed work becomes notifiable.
Examples of workers who may need to undergo Category B training include maintenance workers, demolition workers, roofers, and supervisors/managers. However, whether a given worker needs this category of training will depend on the specific work they are to carry out.
One example of a situation in which Category B training would be needed, would be if an electrician is required to temporarily move ACMs so that they can install cabling.
Licensed asbestos work (Category C)
Certain direct work with asbestos can be considered licensable work, thereby necessitating that such work is carried out by licensed contractors. Licensable work can take the form of a variety of high-risk activities that entail working with, disturbing, repairing, and/or removing asbestos and ACMs, as well as the supervision of these activities.The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) sets out various circumstances in which asbestos work would be licensable. These include – but are not limited to – when worker exposure to asbestos is not sporadic and of low intensity, as well as when the risk assessment is unable to clearly demonstrate that the control limit will not be exceeded.
As the term “licensed contractor” indicates, it is not enough for a worker to have appropriate training – even Category C – if they are to be permitted to undertake licensable asbestos work. A licence can, and must, be obtained through the HSE.
Even if a given worker is licensed, they will need to receive a suitable level of training, such as Category C, together with practical training, before they will be able to undertake this especially high-risk work. Furthermore, as the HSE has made clear, it is essential for such training to be followed up with on-the-job consolidation of the necessary knowledge and skills.
What to look for in an asbestos training company
With asbestos-related work being so specialised and sensitive, from a health and safety perspective as well as a regulatory standpoint, you will not want to take any avoidable risks with your choice of asbestos training company.
Here, then, are some of the key things you should be seeking in an asbestos training provider:
Accreditation and certification
Many companies in the asbestos training industry can make claims for their reputability, knowledge, and experience that are not backed up in reality. So, the right accreditations and certifications can serve as an important signifier that the given company has been judged to be reputable by trustworthy external bodies.Here at Oracle Solutions, for instance, we consistently urge organisations on the lookout for asbestos training solutions to look for companies that are professional members of the United Kingdom Asbestos Training Association (UKATA).
Established in 2008, UKATA is a not-for-profit association that is now recognised as the leading association in the asbestos industry. UKATA routinely monitors and audits its members to help ensure they comply with the high standards meriting sustained UKATA membership and certification.
Indeed, UKATA’s monitoring and auditing regime helps to ensure its member organisations deliver asbestos training that matches or exceeds the HSE’s current asbestos guidance. So, if you are on the lookout for the highest-quality asbestos training provider, choosing one with UKATA membership is one of the best steps you can take.
Course content and curriculum
Before you even begin to compare options for asbestos training, you should be well-informed on the specific training requirements for your industry or job role. This, in turn, will enable you to review the course content and curriculum offered by a range of different asbestos training companies, to ensure these elements in the training are well-matched to your needs.Whichever course you ultimately select, you will need to make sure the training covers relevant topics, such as asbestos identification, handling, removal, and disposal.
How the training is delivered
You should also pay attention to the delivery methods used by the asbestos training company you are considering. The training options on offer from a given provider might include a combination of in-person, online, and blended (both in-person and online) classes.By assessing the flexibility of scheduling and availability of the training sessions, you will be able to consider whether the formats in offer are a good match to your own learning preferences (or those of the workers for whom you are seeking training) and any logistical constraints.
Positive course reviews
Seeking out and reading customer reviews is something that many of us are accustomed to doing for almost any product or service online – and if that’s the case for you, it won’t be necessary to alter your approach much when it comes to potential asbestos training providers.So, be sure to look for reviews and testimonials from previous participants of the given training courses. Ask for recommendations from industry professionals or colleagues who have undergone asbestos training, and research the all-round reputation and track record of each company you look at.
The training support and resources
Another thing that you should be enquiring about to a given asbestos training provider, is the availability of support materials, resources, and post-training assistance.The leading asbestos training companies tend to make available such additional resources as reference materials, online forums, or even helplines, so you might want to know more about these.
Furthermore, you ought to be assessing each possible training provider’s commitment to ongoing professional development and updating their asbestos-related knowledge.
Cost and value for money
Cost will always be a major consideration for those in need of the services of asbestos training providers; however, you should not be basing your decision solely on the headline price of a particular course. Instead, you will need to focus on the overall value proposition that a given training company or course represents.That will necessitate you carefully comparing the pricing structures of different training providers, and considering the value they offer with regard to course quality, instructor expertise, and support.
Take care and prepare well to make sure you choose a suitable source of asbestos training
With there being so many businesses out there that make what might occasionally seem somewhat grand and outlandish claims for the quality of their asbestos training, it is important to take the time to ensure you choose a genuinely reputable asbestos training company.
Such factors as cost, training support, and reviews will doubtless play big roles in your decision-making. However, making sure the course you choose is sufficiently comprehensive and accredited is likely to be a particularly major priority for you.
Ultimately, you will need to make an informed decision on the basis of your own specific preferences and requirements.
Have you been comparing asbestos training providers, and are you interested in learning more about Oracle Solutions’ credentials as a source of HSE-approved, bespoke asbestos training, delivered in-person as well as virtually? If so, you are welcome to enquire to us by sending an email or giving the team at Oracle a call.
Written by Jess Scott
Jess Scott has been an all-round asbestos consultant since 1996. That’s nearly 3 decades of asbestos knowledge. He spends his time sharing that knowledge with the team at Oracle and with their clients. Jess's goal is, and always has been, to use my expertise in helping people to comply with the law. This legal compliance ultimately helps to protect everyone from the harmful effects of asbestos. Jess has acted as an asbestos expert witness in legal cases and is involved in many asbestos educational activities throughout the UK.