Anyone who is likely to be exposed to asbestos during their everyday work is required to be adequately trained about the dangers of asbestos and, in the construction industry, this will apply to almost all manual workers and most people working at supervisory or management level too.
The extent of the training required will depend on your potential exposure and there are three main categories:
- Category A – Basic awareness training
- Category B – Training for work with asbestos that does not require a licence from HSE (or ‘non-licensable’ asbestos work)
- Category C – Training for asbestos work that does require a licence from HSE.
Asbestos Awareness Training
Awareness training applies for anyone who may be liable to disturb asbestos during their everyday work activities – this will include:
General maintenance workers, Electricians, , Plumbers, Joiners, Painters and Decorators, and so on…
The training should include the following topics in accordance with Regulation 10 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012
- The properties of asbestos and its effects on health;
- The types, uses and likely occurrence of asbestos in buildings;
- Procedures to deal with an uncontrolled release of asbestos dust into the workplace;
- How to avoid the risk of exposure to asbestos.
Training can be delivered on-line, in a classroom or in the workplace and can be completed in a few hours. In either case there are a number of providers offering these courses and there is no one industry recognised standard. Your chosen provider may be affiliated to one of the regulatory bodies (but doesn’t have to be) – which only adds to the confusion. See the links below to find members of each organisation in your area:
- British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS)
- Independent Asbestos Training Providers (IATP)
- UK Asbestos Training Association (UKATA)
- Asbestos Safety Health Environment E-Learning Association (ASHEeLA)
As always with these kind of courses you are generally best advised to choose a provider who has a an established reputation rather than whoever is the cheapest. As a guide you can expect to pay around £30 for an online course and anything between £50 and £200 for a classroom/work-based course.
The Asbestos Training Pledge is an initiative promoted by the Health & Safety Executive to promote asbestos awareness in the construction industry. For the duration of each campaign course providers are invited to pledge a certain number of free places.
At the time of writing the current pledge initiative has been fully taken up in the UK, although there are currently still some foreign language places available. There is also a current initiative in Northern Ireland which runs from 7th January to the end of March 2013.
Training for ‘Non-Licensable’ Workers
Non licensable workers should not be confused with those who rarely come into contact with asbestos, as above. This category is for workers who carry out some work which will involve the disturbance of asbestos but not too such a level that they need to licensed by the HSE. Work falling into this category will include:
- Drilling holes in asbestos materials (including for sampling and analysis purposes)
- Laying cables in areas containing undamaged asbestos materials.
- Removing asbestos containing floor tiles
- Cleaning or repairing asbestos cement sheet roofing or cladding.
Topics covered by this type of training include:
- How to make assessments about the risk of exposure to asbestos
- Safe work practices and control measures
- Selection and appropriate use of protective equipment
- Waste handling procedures
- Emergency procedures
- Relevant legal requirements.
The training should be in addition to general awareness training and will, ideally, be job specific. This form of training can only be delivered in a classroom or ‘in-house’ and will generally last for a full day.
Because of the specialist nature of this training there are fewer providers and costs can typically be around £200. There may also be a requirement to attend a refresher course once a year – dependent on changes in the particular industry.
Training for ‘Licensed Asbestos Work’
This category of training is for workers with a high risk of contact with asbestos who work for a contractor licensed by the HSE.
There are only a few specialist providers of these courses which can be tailored to specific industry needs and will typically last for two or three full days in a classroom or workshop environment. Most providers offer different levels of training for operatives, supervisors and managers.
Costs can be anywhere from £300 upwards and there will almost certainly be a requirement for one day annual refresher courses.
Further Learning & Professional Qualification Routes
If you are interested in a career as an asbestos analyst or surveyor you can study for an industry recognised qualification as accredited by UKAS.
Qualifications can be attained via the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) as well as the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH). The range of courses available and qualifications vary but some courses can be completed relatively quickly. Current legislation requires that anyone carrying out an asbestos survey must be competent to do so. Attaining a relevant competency module will usually be the minimum requirement for gaining employment in this field.