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Asbestos awareness and training options – are you up to date?
Whether you’re hoping to renovate a domestic property or make improvements to a commercial property; before you commence any work it is important to ensure that you and the contractors you hire are fully aware of the risks of disturbing/making changes to your property.
Homeowners are especially at risk, as too few of them are aware of the dangers asbestos can pose. Similarly, many have little idea of how old their property is or of the numerous places asbestos may be hidden in their home.
Yet builders/traders are just as much at risk, especially if their training in asbestos is limited or outdated.
That is why, before you undertake any project, it is important to ensure that your entire team is fully up-to-date on 1) how to locate hidden asbestos and 2) the correct procedures for handling it.
What Are Your Training Options?
As an employer it is your responsibility to ensure that anyone who is liable to disturb asbestos during their work (or is supervising it) is instructed and trained on how to work safely and competently, without risking the health of themselves and those around them.
For instance, workers must be able to recognise asbestos containing materials and know what to do when they encounter them.
To ensure this they must receive instruction and training on asbestos awareness; non-licensable work with asbestos (including NNLW) and licensable work with asbestos.
Now it is important to note here that getting your workers to attend a training course isn’t always enough to make them competent. This needs to be developed by consolidating their skills learnt on the course, with on-the-job learning and assessments.
Types of Courses
- Asbestos Awareness – this course is intended to give your workers information on how to avoid disturbing asbestos whilst they work.For instance, they will be informed on the properties of asbestos and how it can affect your health; types of asbestos (and their uses); general procedures for dealing with an emergency, and how to avoid the risk of exposure.This awareness training will sadly not prepare them on how to carry out work with materials containing asbestos; in which case they will need to get further training. NOTE: those commonly affected by this include: general maintenance workers, electricians, plumbers, joiners, plasterers, painters and decorators, roofers, gas fitters, demolition workers, heating and ventilation engineers and building surveyors.
- E-learning – there are a number of e-learning courses (recognised by the HSE) that can be used to boost asbestos awareness training, as long as they satisfy the requirements of Regulation 10 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. Same as above, if workers plan to carry out work that will likely disturb asbestos, they will need a higher level of training in addition to this awareness course.
- Non-licensable work (NNLW) – many of the workers listed in the Asbestos Awareness section should also acquire training in this area as their jobs may result in them drilling holes into asbestos materials; laying cables in areas that might contain undamaged asbestos materials; removing floor tiles (that contain asbestos) or cleaning/repairing cement sheet roofing or cladding. For this reason, these workers should receive training on how to make assessments about risks of exposure as well as instruction on safe work practices (and control measures); protective equipment; waste handling procedures; emergency procedure; legal requirements etc.These same workers should also be provided with copies of: risk assessment for the work; plan of work; maintenance records; result of face-fit test for RPE, and where applicable, results of any air monitoring.
- Licensable Work - in situations where there is a high risk of working with asbestos-containing materials, this work should be done by licensed contractors.They will have received appropriate training on how to use respiratory and other protective equipment that will safeguard their health.Yet they too should be provided with a copy of the risk assessment for the work; the plan of work, and notification of work made to the enforcing authority. Essentially they should receive the same information as those performing non-licensable work.
How Often Should You Train?
Whilst there is no legal requirement to refresh your awareness training once a year; it is advisable that some type of refresher is offered – through e-learning or during health and safety courses – as this will ensure that their asbestos awareness is maintained.
Similarly, refresher training on licensable and non-licensable work should be tailored to the role of your worker - after you have completed a training needs analysis (TNA) – and should be offered annually. For example, if they have undergone extensive training, it may be wise to offer them practical training opportunities (i.e. on decontamination procedures; use of RPE and controlled removal techniques) to keep the information fresh in their minds.
When to refresh training:
- If work methods have changed
- If the type of equipment used to control exposure has changed
- If the type of work performed changes
- If you’ve identified gaps in their levels of competency
Alongside supplying your workers with regular training (both in and out of the classroom); it is also worth keeping a record of your workers training in licensable and non-licensable work as this will allow you to carry out ongoing training and support your workers knowledge should they choose to work somewhere else.
Your Next Steps…
No matter the project, it is important that all your workers are fully aware and knowledgeable on asbestos and the risks it poses.
Now, the HSE can provide you with a long list of reputable training providers on their website. Simply take a look and determine who is the right fit for you.
Alternatively, you can enlist the support of our team at ICE Asbestos, who can supply you with detailed surveys, labelling and encapsulation work which can quickly help you to identify all asbestos containing materials and their locations.
For more information on how we can support your renovation project, contact our team today.
At ICE Asbestos we are licensed to perform both Management surveys as well as Demolition & Refurbishment Surveys. We work all over the UK, and have offices in Birmingham, Darlington, London, Leeds, Nottingham and Norwich.