How asbestos awareness training can help you at work

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Asbestos has caused severe illness and high mortality rates around the world for many decades, partly due to a lack of asbestos awareness among workers and their employers. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics show in 2016 alone, 2,595 victims died from mesothelioma, an aggressive form of lung cancer attributed to asbestos exposure.

The nature of asbestos disease means that symptoms do not show themselves until many years after initial exposure, sometimes up to 50 or 60 years. This is why people who worked with asbestos in their early working lives are now suffering such devastating diagnoses.

Why were people not informed about asbestos?

The harmful effects of asbestos were reportedly covered up by large organisations in the past, and in some cases, employers were simply not aware of the potential health risks to employees.

Unlike today there was little in the way of asbestos awareness training, which explains the high number of deaths, not only amongst workers in industries directly related to asbestos, but also among those employed in schools, hospitals, libraries, and other public buildings.

Why asbestos awareness training could be vital for you as an employee

Many of the buildings constructed prior to the UK asbestos ban in 1999 still contain asbestos in some form. If the material in which it is encased degrades, or is inadvertently disturbed, you are at risk of breathing in deadly microscopic fibres and dust.

Reports of high levels of asbestos in schools, hospitals and other non-residential buildings are common and by law the duty-holder, which is usually the owner of the building, is obliged to employ licensed contractors to safely handle and remove it.

Asbestos training for construction trades, but what about workers in other industries?

If you are likely to come into contact with asbestos during your normal working day, your employer is legally obliged to provide asbestos awareness training. Although construction-related trades are most likely to require this type of instruction, a strong argument exists for employees in other industries to be made aware of the potential dangers they face.

School and hospital staff – indeed employees working in any commercial or industrial building constructed before the end of 1999 – could be at risk of inadvertently disturbing asbestos or asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in their working environment.

What will you learn from a UKATA asbestos awareness training course?

The UK Asbestos Training Association (UKATA) sets the standards for asbestos training in this country. Here are some of the areas covered by our half-day UKATA asbestos awareness courses:

  • What asbestos is and why it is dangerous
  • The products that contain asbestos
  • Where you might find asbestos or asbestos-containing products
  • Asbestos-related diseases
  • What to do in an asbestos emergency
  • Basic management of asbestos
  • Asbestos regulations overview

Acorn Analytical Services is an asbestos consultancy and a UKATA-approved training provider for asbestos awareness. To obtain an asbestos awareness quote or find out more about how we can help with any aspect of asbestos, please contact one of our highly trained consultants. Our services include, but are not limited to, asbestos testing, asbestos surveys, and asbestos removal.

Neil Munro

I work in a dual role at Acorn Analytical Services focused primarily on growing and leading the business from our Northampton office base. My focus is on overseeing all sales, marketing and financial activities from Northampton. I assist clients with high-level asbestos management strategies and training. Together with Ian Stone I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I'm Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

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