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26th September, 2019

Who Is Asbestos Awareness Training Suitable For?

Asbestos awareness training is the most common type of asbestos training. We've written about the asbestos questions and answers you are likely to cover. We've created a free asbestos awareness toolbox talk and asbestos awareness video (at the bottom of this post). We even have an asbestos awareness eLearning course available.

But before you use these resources, you might be wondering, who needs asbestos awareness training?

Asbestos awareness is the most basic level of asbestos training. It is suitable for tradespeople and construction workers who need an understanding of what to avoid, and how to stay safe when working in buildings that may contain asbestos. It's not suitable for working directly with, or removing, asbestos materials.

In this blog post, we are going to answer some frequently asked questions about asbestos awareness training, including:

  1. What is it?
  2. Who needs it?
  3. Is it a legal requirement?

What is asbestos awareness training?

Before we can figure out who asbestos awareness training is suitable for, we need to know what it covers. Asbestos awareness training is the most basic level of asbestos training. It's not for people who need to work with or remove, asbestos. It's actually for people who need to avoid asbestos.

Asbestos is a deadly material. It can cause painful and fatal lung diseases. And, asbestos is found in a wide variety of places, because it was a popular building material in the past.

lung xray
Asbestos can cause painful and fatal lung diseases

The asbestos awareness training course will cover:

  • Types of asbestos
  • Properties of asbestos
  • Effects on health and increased risks
  • Places asbestos can be found
  • How to avoid asbestos exposure
  • Emergency procedures

The aim of the course isn't to teach workers how to remove asbestos. If you need to work with asbestos materials, you're going to need a higher level of training, and possibly a license (depending on the type of asbestos you're dealing with). Higher levels of training for work with asbestos include:

  • Non-licensable work with asbestos including NNLW
  • Licensable work with asbestos

Asbestos awareness training isn't for work with asbestos. It's for making sure work can be carried out away from it. It gives workers who may be working near asbestos materials an understanding of the risks, so they can avoid disturbing asbestos and releasing the deadly fibres.

Workers that have taken asbestos awareness training will have a better understanding of what asbestos is, why it's dangerous and where it might be found. They will also know the steps that need to be taken when they start a project. To check for asbestos, and to work safely when near asbestos materials.

Who needs asbestos awareness training?

So now we know that asbestos awareness is all about avoiding asbestos, and not working with asbestos. So who needs it? Well, asbestos awareness training is suitable for anyone who may disturb asbestos during their normal work.

Asbestos materials are relatively safe if they are in good condition, and not disturbed. But once you start drilling, sanding or cutting asbestos-containing materials, you're in trouble. The fibres are so small, you can't see them, but the danger is clear to see. Around 5,000 people each year die in the UK from asbestos-related diseases.

asbestos tiny fibres

The most at-risk groups are tradespeople and construction workers. These are the people that will be carrying out building work, knocking, pulling, drilling and cutting materials.

  • Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • Joiners
  • Painters and decorators
  • Plasterers
  • Maintenance workers
  • Construction workers
  • Roofers
  • Demolition workers
  • Labourers
  • Shopfitters
  • Gasfitters
  • Heating and ventilation engineers
  • Telecommunication engineers
  • Fire/burglar alarm installers
  • Computer and data installers
  • Architects
  • Building surveyors

Even if you are not listed above, if you work on existing buildings, or supervise those who do, you probably need asbestos awareness training. There's no cure for asbestos-related diseases, so it's better to be safe now than sorry later. But remember, asbestos awareness training teaches you how to avoid asbestos. If you need to disturb asbestos as part of your work, you will need a higher level of training.

Is asbestos awareness training a legal requirement?

Yes, it is. Asbestos awareness is required by law under the Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR).

10.—(1) Every employer must ensure that any employee employed by that employer is given adequate information, instruction and training where that employee—

  1. is or is liable to be exposed to asbestos, or if that employee supervises such employees

Regulation 10 goes on to detail the contents and information that should be included in the training needed to provide awareness to employees.

The accompanying code of practice for the regulations further details the requirement to provide training:

225 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.

And...

232 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.

Not only is it a legal requirement to provide the appropriate level of asbestos training, but you also need to keep that knowledge refreshed. Asbestos awareness certificates don't last forever. Keeping your awareness at the front of your mind means you won't get complacent. Asbestos is known as the hidden killer after all.

(2) The information, instruction and training required by paragraph (1) must be—

  1. given at regular intervals;

You can use the free asbestos awareness toolbox talk to as a regular reminder, or take the full asbestos awareness eLearning course to get up to speed.

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This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and BSc (Hons) Construction Management. She is NEBOSH qualified and Tech IOSH.

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