If you work in construction or any other profession where you may disturb asbestos you should be trained in asbestos awareness as a minimum. But how often should that training take place, and how long does an asbestos awareness certificate last?
Most asbestos awareness certificates expire after one year.
This is in line with refresher training for licensable and non-licensable work which should be given at least every year.
For asbestos awareness refresher training, a realistic, common sense approach to refreshing knowledge and skills, based on a judgement of individual abilities and training needs, is required.
The HSE recommend that some form of refresher should be given, as necessary, to help ensure knowledge of asbestos awareness is maintained. This is usually every 12 months, but frequency could depend on the level of potential exposure, and the risk of exposure.
Remember, asbestos awareness training is only intended to help employees avoid carrying out work that will disturb asbestos or asbestos containing materials.
So why is asbestos awareness training so important?
Firstly, asbestos awareness training is the most basic level of asbestos training, and simply helps workers identify where they are likely to find asbestos, understand the risks, and what to do if they find or suspect asbestos is present.
This basic understanding of asbestos as a hazard and the risks caused by asbestos is vital, simply because disturbing asbestos can have fatal consequences.
10.—(1) Every employer must ensure that any employee employed by that employer is given adequate information, instruction and training where that employee—
(a) is or is liable to be exposed to asbestos, or if that employee supervises such employees so that those employees are aware...
Asbestos awareness training helps workers know how to avoid accidental asbestos disturbance and protect themselves.
But why do we need to refresh this knowledge every year? Surely once you know, you know?
What is the reason for refreshers?
Well asbestos is known as the hidden killer. When your mind is on other tasks on site, it can be forgotten about. You can't easily identify asbestos, and you don't get an instant reaction when exposed, the consequences and health damage can take years to appear.
Through keeping knowledge fresh, awareness can be kept high.
You can't be expected to remember all the information you learned from a course taken months or even years ago.
So regular refresher training is important.
This is also why an asbestos awareness certificate may only last a year before it expires.
Annual asbestos awareness refresher training can help keep the risks at the forefront of everyone's mind on site. It may even be useful to have more frequent toolbox talks throughout the year.
Once you are asbestos aware, remember to maintain this awareness through regular refreshers.
If you need to refresh your knowledge you can watch a 5-minute toolbox talk on asbestos below.
Need to get your team up to speed on asbestos? Download the free asbestos awareness toolbox talk handout.