Asbestos Awareness Training – Why Is This Important?

It is essential that anyone who is liable to disturb asbestos in their line of work, knows exactly what to do and how to handle this extremely dangerous substance. An employer must give the correct level of information, instruction and training so that their employees can work safely without risking their health or those of others.

So what type of instruction, information and training is necessary?

Employers, supervisors and workers need to be able to recognise ACM’s – Asbestos Containing Materials and what to do if they come across them in their line of work. There are three areas of information and training needed which relate to asbestos awareness, non-licensable work with asbestos, including NNLW and licensable work with asbestos.

A training course on its own will not necessarily make someone competent in all of these areas. This can only be advanced and developed by consolidating the skills learnt whilst training and implementing them on the job through instruction and assessment. Each level of information must be appropriate for the work and roles undertaken by each part of the workforce.

Asbestos Awareness Training - Why Is This Important?

Asbestos awareness

This is intended to inform, instruct and train a member of a team with the correct information needed to avoid work that may disturb asbestos during a ‘normal’ working day. This is about awareness it will not prepare the team with how to carry out any work on materials that contain asbestos.

Further instruction and training is needed for working with ACM’s.

For example, the following occupations may come across asbestos in their work and should look at this form of training in order to prevent any risk to themselves or others; General maintenance workers, Electricians, Plumbers, Joiners, Painters and decorators, Plasterers, Construction workers, Roofers, Shop fitters, Gas fitters, Heating and ventilation engineers, Demolition workers, Telecommunication engineers, Fire/burglar alarm installers, Computer and data installers, Architects and Building surveyors.

What should a training course cover?

Information, instruction and training about asbestos awareness should cover the following:

  • What are the properties of asbestos and how do these effect someone’s health. This should include the increased risk of developing lung cancer for asbestos workers who smoke.
  • The different types of asbestos, their uses and the likely occurrence of these materials in buildings.
  • The general procedures to deal with an emergency, for example an uncontrolled release of asbestos dust into the workplace.
  • How to avoid the risk of exposure to asbestos.

Online/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, among others, for asbestos awareness training, 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’.

However workers who will be carrying out work that will disturb asbestos require a deeper level of training and information in addition to just asbestos awareness. This should take into account whether the work is non-licensed; notifiable non-licensed work (NNLW); or licensed work and should always be job specific.

By Harry Price

Harry Price is a freelance writer and painter living on the south coast.  He loves to be active and his favourite pastimes include rockclimbing, running, and sailing.

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