Who is Asbestos Awareness Training Suitable For?
The increasing awareness of this reality – including the link between asbestos exposure and the development of frequently fatal diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis – culminated in the importation and use of asbestos being banned in the UK in 1999.
So, why is there still a great need for “awareness” of asbestos at all? The short answer is because, with asbestos still to be found in many both public and private buildings up and down the UK, the dangers of asbestos remain very much present.
Although the asbestos that is still present in buildings in the 2020s is not believed to pose a risk to health if it is in good condition and undisturbed, the situation can be very different if the material is disturbed, as can happen in instances such as the renovation or demolition of buildings. For this reason, it is vitally important that those who may potentially come into contact with asbestos-containing materials should be asbestos aware.
So let’s take a closer look at exactly what is meant by “asbestos awareness training”, and who should undergo this type of training today.
What is asbestos awareness training, and why is it important?
It might seem self-explanatory what asbestos awareness training is: a form of training that is designed to make the learner more aware of asbestos, including what it is, and the dangers the substance can present.
However, one of the most important things to know about asbestos awareness training, is that it is the lowest-level, most basic form of asbestos training. It is a form of information, instruction, and training that is meant to help workers and supervisors avoid work that could cause the disturbance of asbestos, in settings where asbestos is likely to be close by.
As we touched on above, it is extremely important to avoid disturbing asbestos, given that this can cause asbestos fibres to be released into the air. This, in turn, presents the risk of someone nearby ingesting or breathing in the dust, which could lead to the development of a life-threatening asbestos-related condition, even decades after exposure.
If, on the other hand, there is a need for a given worker to undertake work that will cause disturbance to asbestos-containing materials (ACMs), there will be a need for additional information, instruction, and training. Asbestos awareness training simply isn’t designed for people who will be expected to directly work with or remove asbestos.
Who needs asbestos awareness training?
So, now that we have established asbestos awareness training isn’t for people who will be handling asbestos directly, exactly who is required to undergo asbestos awareness training?
The short answer to this question, is that it is needed by any worker who could conceivably encounter – and disturb – asbestos during their normal work.
By being better-informed on the risks of asbestos exposure – as can occur if tasks such as drilling, sanding, or the cutting of ACMs cause asbestos fibres to be released – such workers can better ensure they avoid asbestos altogether.
Types of jobs that may require asbestos awareness training
Below are examples of workers who could benefit from asbestos awareness training. Bear in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, so even if your occupation is not mentioned here, it could still be a good idea for you to undergo asbestos awareness training.
- Construction workers
- General maintenance workers
- Painters and decorators
- Shop fitters
- Gas fitters
- Heating and ventilation engineers
- Telecommunication engineers
- Demolition workers
- Computer and data installers
- Installers of fire and burglar alarms
- Building surveyors
What should asbestos awareness training cover?
Regulation 10 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR 2012) provides further details on what employees should be aware of in relation to asbestos.
The accompanying Approved Code of Practice and guidance document for these regulations, L143, also provides information on what topics asbestos awareness training should cover, including:
- Asbestos’ properties and the impacts it can have on health, including the potentially heightened risk of lung cancer for asbestos workers who smoke
- The types, uses, and likely occurrence of asbestos and ACMs in buildings and plant
- The general procedures that should be followed in the event of an emergency, such as asbestos fibres being released in an uncontrolled manner on-site
- How the risks that asbestos poses can be avoided. For example, in the case of construction work, no employee should undertake work which disturbs a building’s fabric, unless the employer has confirmed that ACMs are not present.
It all comes back to the guiding principle of asbestos awareness training, as set out earlier: that this type of training is solely meant to help employees avoid carrying out work that could cause asbestos or ACMs to be disturbed.
Asbestos awareness training is not at all meant to prepare employees or self-employed contractors for work with ACMs; if this is the goal, more in-depth and specialised training will be required.
Benefits of asbestos awareness training
Given the long-established status of asbestos as an extreme health hazard – past exposure to the substance estimated to cause around 5,000 deaths a year in the UK – asbestos awareness training plays a hugely important role in ensuring the health and safety of workers on-site.
In the event of someone being exposed to asbestos during their work, any asbestos-related disease connected to this may not emerge until many decades later. By the time symptoms do arise, it is often too late for treatment to have much effect on sufferers’ condition and prognosis.
This factor further underlines the importance of employees being trained in asbestos awareness before they are permitted to work in a setting where there could be a risk of them coming into contact with – and disturbing – asbestos.
The better the standard of education that workers receive in relation to asbestos – covering the severity of the risks the material poses, and when and where the substance can be present in buildings – the better placed they will be to help ensure they never directly encounter asbestos in the first place.
It is why here at Oracle Solutions, we are proud to run Category A (Cat A) asbestos awareness training lasting for half a day, as well as refresher courses that take only about two hours for workers to complete. That’s hardly much of a time sacrifice for significantly enhanced health and safety on-site.
Is it a legal requirement to be asbestos aware?
In a word: yes. CAR 2012 sets out the requirement of dutyholders to take action to prevent workers from being exposed to asbestos during the course of their work.
The “dutyholder” is defined as the owner of the given non-domestic premises where asbestos is present, or the person or organisation with clear responsibility for the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises, as might be outlined through an explicit agreement such as a tenancy agreement or contract.
Regulation 10 of CAR 2012 also states specifically that “every employer must ensure that any employee employed by that employer is given adequate information, instruction and training where that employee… is or is liable to be exposed to asbestos”.
Page 54 of the L143 Approved Code of Practice and guidance document stipulates that “employers have a duty to ensure that the information, instruction, and training given to their employees is adequate to allow them to safeguard themselves and other employees and to carry out their work with asbestos effectively.”
Further down that same page, it is set out that “asbestos awareness training should be given to employees whose work could foreseeably disturb the fabric of a building and expose them to asbestos or who supervise or influence the work.”
Looking back to Regulation 10 of CAR 2012, it is important to appreciate that simply providing an appropriate level of asbestos training is not the only legal requirement; it is also expected that steps will be taken to keep workers’ asbestos knowledge refreshed.
Or, to put it in the words of the regulation itself, “the information, instruction and training… must be… (a) given at regular intervals; (b) adapted to take account of significant changes in the type of work carried out or methods of work used by the employer; and (c) provided in a manner appropriate to the nature and degree of exposure identified by the risk assessment”.
So, even if you enrol your employees on our own Category A (Cat A) asbestos awareness training, this training will not be valid forever. It is a legal requirement for such training to be updated (refreshed) at least every 12 months.
Contact Oracle Solutions for a competitive and free asbestos quote
As a highly respected and accredited asbestos consultancy, Oracle Solutions is strongly placed to provide your commercial organisation with the asbestos training services. We provide UKATA approved training, with our Category A (Cat A) asbestos awareness training, being just one of our areas of expertise. So, please don’t hesitate to enquire to our team, whether by phone or email, to discuss how we could best assist you and your business with being asbestos awareness training.