If you work in building services or construction there is a very high chance that at some point, you will come into contact with asbestos.
If you are an employer, you must make sure that anyone who is liable to disturb asbestos during their normal work, or who supervises those employees, gets the correct level of information, instruction and training.
This is so that they can work safely and competently without risk to themselves or others.
Asbestos kills around 20 tradespeople every week. It is still a huge danger to professionals, and the public.
Because of this, some work may require a licensed contractor, some may have to be notified (scroll down for more information on this).
Statistics taken from the 2014 Health and Safety Executive’s asbestos survey
Information, instruction and training needs differ depending on your role and the type of work being carried out.
We have tried to cover the most common in this blog but if you would like to find out more you can visit HSE for more detail.
Who needs to be asbestos aware?
- General maintenance workers
- Building surveyors
- Painters and decorators
- Construction workers
- Shop fitters
- Gas fitters
- Heating and ventilation engineers
- Demolition workers
- Telecommunication engineers
- Fire/burglar alarm installers
- Computer and data installers
What are the requirements?
If your business is liable to come into contact with or disturb asbestos then workers and supervisors must be able to recognise asbestos-containing materials (ACMs).
Workers and supervisors must also know what to do if they do come across them in order to protect themselves and others.
There are three levels of information, instruction and training, as outlined by the health and safety executive (HSE)
- Asbestos awareness
- Non-Licensable work with asbestos including NNLW
- Licensable work and asbestos
Workers and supervisors must develop their competence over time by taking what they have learnt in training and applying it on-the-job.
Make sure the level of information, instruction and training is appropriate for the work and roles undertaken by each worker (and supervisor).
There is no legal requirement for employees to hold a certificate of training before they can work with asbestos, however many training providers will issue trainees with certificates.
A certificate is not proof of competency to do the job but it does show that you have had the training and can be kept as part of your personal training record.
What should asbestos awareness training cover?
You should expect a certain level of information, instruction and training. It should cover the following:
- the properties of asbestos and its effects on health, including the increased risk of developing lung cancer for asbestos workers who smoke
- the types, uses and likely occurrence of asbestos and asbestos materials in buildings and plant
- the general procedures to deal with an emergency, eg an uncontrolled release of asbestos dust into the workplace
- how to avoid the risk of exposure to asbestos
It is recognised by the HSE as a viable delivery method provided it satisfies the requirements of Regulation 10 of the control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and the supporting Approved Code of Practice L143 “Managing and working with asbestos”.
Workers who plan to carry out work that will disturb asbestos will need more advanced training and a greater level of understanding.
This should take account of whether the work is non-licensed; notifiable non-licensed work (NNLW); or licensed work and should be job specific.
It is your own responsibility to make sure you have the right level of information, instruction and training.
You may not prioritise asbestos awareness if you are a one man band but it is vital you get the right training so you are not putting yourself or others at risk.
Non-licensable work, including Notifiable Non-licensed Work (NNLW)
You may require this information if your profession is listed in the “who needs asbestos awareness” list above.
This is because your work requires you to disturb asbestos-containing materials such as:
- 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
The information, instruction and training for non-licensable work with asbestos, including NNLW, should cover the following:
- how to make suitable and sufficient assessments about the risk of exposure to asbestos
- safe work practices and control measures, including an explanation of the correct use of control measures, protective equipment and work methods
- selection and appropriate use of protective equipment
- waste handling procedures
- emergency procedures
- relevant legal requirements
- circumstances when non-licensed work may be notifiable (ie NNLW)
This list is taken from the HSE website but it is not a complete list.
Information, instruction and training should be appropriate to the work being done and should be tailored accordingly.
Licensable work with asbestos
Most work with higher risk asbestos-containing materials must be carried out by licensed contractors.
Employers should make the following information available to workers doing licensable work with asbestos:
- a copy of the risk assessment for that work
- a copy of the plan of work
- details of any air monitoring and results
- details of notification of work made to the enforcing authority
- maintenance records for control measures
- the individual’s own personal information from health records
- the results of any face-fit test for RPE provided for work with asbestos
- a copy of the licence
- any anonymised collective information from the health records
Refresher training on asbestos awareness
Any information, instruction and training on asbestos awareness is meant to help workers avoid carrying out work that will disturb asbestos.
You do not have to repeat entire awareness training every 12 or so months but some refresher training should be given.
Workers and supervisors need to make sure their knowledge of asbestos awareness is maintained.
E-learning is preferable for refresher awareness and can be delivered as part of a general health and safety update (eg, it could be delivered as a safety talk to employees).
Using judgement based on individuals abilities and training needs should be all that is required.
Refresher information, instruction and training for licensable and non-licensable work should be provided every year, or more frequently if:
- work methods change
- the type of equipment used to control exposure changes
- the type of work carried out changes significantly
- gaps in competency are identified
- It should include reviewing where things have gone wrong and sharing good practice.
There should be an appropriate level of practical training, particularly covering decontamination procedures, use of RPE, FFT and controlled removal techniques.
I need more information
There is so much to cover when it comes to asbestos. There is a vast amount of information available on the HSE website.
We would recommend the Frequently Asked Questions page as there are all sorts of answers with regards to regulation, policy and the trades.
For more information about online asbestos training, call our team on 0345 845 7222