The dangers of asbestos are pretty well known nowadays – hardly a week goes by without a story in the news about the dangers of asbestos. Although it may seem that the risks associated with asbestos are a thing of the past, nothing could be further from the truth. Asbestos still presents a very real danger here in the UK where many of our buildings that were constructed before the total asbestos ban of 1999 contain asbestos somewhere in the premises. Even supposedly modern buildings may contain asbestos or asbestos containing materials (ACMs) that may pose a risk to contractors and workers.
Employers in the UK are legally required to protect their workforce on a daily basis and this means that any remodelling or refurbishment work being planned will need to take into account the fact that ACMs may be present. Contractors who are hired to work in the building may disturb asbestos during the course of their work.
This means that the contractors will need to undergo Asbestos Awareness Training of some type – this is particularly relevant for the following groups of contractors:
- General maintenance workers
- Painters and decorators
- Roofers and construction workers
- Shop fitters
- Telecom engineers
- Heating and ventilation engineers
- Gas fitters
- Computer installers
- Burglar and fire alarm installers
- Building surveyors
- Demolition workers
An Asbestos Awareness Training programme will be designed to make sure that workers know how to avoid any risks from asbestos and are aware of the necessary equipment needed to protect themselves from risk.Any Asbestos Awareness Training undertaken should include the following:
- How to avoid or minimize the risk of asbestos exposure
- General operating procedures for dealing with any emergency (such as the uncontrolled release of asbestos into any work environment)
- The types of asbestos, together with their uses and any likelihood of ACMs occurring in plant and buildings
- The properties of asbestos and the effects of exposure on the health of those at risk – including the increased risk of developing lung cancer (especially in workers who smoke)
Every employer in the UK is responsible for making sure that staff members are adequately trained, with the knowledge, experience and capability to carry out their work tasks without risking themselves or others to asbestos exposure. Managers and supervisors will need the appropriate training that ensures that they are aware of their added responsibilities. As the business owner, you’ll need to liaise with the training providers, letting them know about all the tasks that are carried out by your workforce and the type of environment where they work. This will allow the training provider to tailor the training specifically to your requirements and ensure the safety of your team members.
Training providers in the UK collaborate closely with the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to improve competency and promote awareness. Any asbestos training will need to be industry appropriate as there are differing types of training available for different types of work.