Don’t forget your legal duty to provide asbestos awareness training

Asbestos awareness training enables workers who are likely to come into contact with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) to recognise and avoid disturbing them. In doing so, they protect their own health and safety, as well as that of their co-workers and people nearby.

This type of training is particularly important for tradespeople and construction-related workers, including plumbers, electricians, plasterers, and joiners, but also others involved in work with older buildings, such as architects, engineers, and surveyors.

So what does asbestos awareness training involve, and how is it undertaken?

What does asbestos awareness training cover?

Asbestos awareness training covers such areas as:

  • Which materials encase asbestos
  • Why asbestos is dangerous
  • What exactly asbestos is
  • Where asbestos is likely to be located
  • Diseases associated with exposure to asbestos
  • Asbestos regulations in the UK
  • How to deal with the unexpected release of asbestos

The UK Asbestos Training Association, or UKATA, is the body that sets the standards in asbestos training, and ensures training providers have the right knowledge and experience to deliver the course.

How is asbestos awareness training carried out?

Face-to-face courses taken in a classroom setting typically offer candidates the best opportunity to ask questions and receive immediate feedback, and there’s a multiple choice test at the end.

On passing the exam a certificate is awarded, and this demonstrates candidates’ commitment to health and safety in their work environment. Follow-up or booster training is also recommended at regular intervals to make sure any new information on asbestos or asbestos best-practices is dispensed.

Why is asbestos awareness training so important?

The number of older buildings in the UK means that asbestos remains a significant threat to health and safety, particularly for those working with the fabric of these buildings. Asbestos was widely used from the 1950s onwards and wasn’t banned until the end of 1999.

This means ACMs could be present in any building constructed before this date, and given their age, may be in poor condition. Once asbestos fibres are released, they’re easily inhaled and can set up asbestos disease that only materialises decades later.

This is why asbestos awareness training is crucial for anyone working in older buildings, and although tradespeople are more likely to disturb asbestos materials, other people who work there every day – school teachers and admin staff, for example, would also benefit from taking these courses.

The importance of asbestos awareness training

In the past, little knowledge was passed down to those most likely to be exposed to asbestos, and as a consequence, the mortality rate from asbestos-related disease remains high. In 2017, there were 2,526 people who died from mesothelioma – an aggressive form of lung cancer attributed to asbestos exposure.

For more information on asbestos awareness training and how it can help you and your employees, please contact Acorn Analytical Solutions. We’re a nationwide asbestos consultancy offering asbestos training, surveys, testing, and asbestos removal, and can offer you a fast quote online.

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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