Asbestos awareness training should be given to all employees whose work could disturb the fabric of a building and expose them to asbestos. This includes electricians and employees working in the electrical trade.
Training should also be given to those who supervise or influence any work of this kind. The Regulations’ Approved Code of Practice also recommends that a refresher should be undertaken at least once a year.
By accessing asbestos awareness training, you protect your own health and safety as well as that of your co-workers and people nearby.
Why does asbestos present problems to workers in the electrical trade?
The number of older buildings in the UK means asbestos remains a significant threat to health and safety, particularly for those working with the fabric of these buildings. Asbestos was widely used as a building material as it proved to make a great insulator. It was used in buildings from the 1950s onwards and wasn’t actually banned until the end of 1999. This means asbestos containing materials (ACMs) could be present in any building constructed before this date. For example, it was once common for garage roofs to be made using 15% Chrysotile and Portland cement to make the roof sheets. It was also commonly used in large institutional buildings, such as schools, hospitals and prisons.
Once asbestos fibres are released, they are easily inhaled and can lead to asbestos-related diseases that only materialise decades later. In the past, little knowledge was passed down to those most likely to be exposed to asbestos, and as a consequence, the mortality rate from asbestos-related disease remains high. In fact, in 2017, there were 2,526 people who died from mesothelioma – an aggressive form of lung cancer. More than 80% of mesothelioma cases are caused by exposure to asbestos with the greater the exposure, the greater the risk. Studies have shown that the UK has the highest number of mesothelioma deaths in the world and, as cases can take so long to become symptomatic, these numbers have remained at a similar level for years, despite the asbestos ban happening more than 20 years ago.
How can I access asbestos awareness training?
There are many ways to get this training either online or face-to-face. At Acorn Analytical Services, we would always recommend classroom led, face-to-face training. In our experience, questions always come to the forefront of people’s minds during their training and if you are in front of a real person, you can ask them and get the answer there and then. The answers will also be 100% relevant and bespoke to your organisation and situation and not generic.
We would advise that any electrical firms looking for asbestos awareness training look for courses that are approved by UKATA (UK Asbestos Training Association) and have been specially designed to promote awareness and reduce ‘accidental disturbance’ for anyone who may come into contact with asbestos materials during the course of their work.
What does the training cover?
As an example, our half-day UKATA Asbestos Awareness training courses have been tailored to give candidates a comprehensive understanding of the negative health effects and dangers associated with asbestos, looking at:
- What asbestos is
- Where asbestos was used
- What products contain asbestos
- Why asbestos is hazardous and what diseases and health effects are attributed to asbestos
- Who is at risk?
- Emergency procedures
- Basic asbestos management and an overview of the regulations
The idea is that once you know what products contain asbestos and where they were used, you won’t disturb them. And, in the event something does go wrong, you will know what to do in an emergency. You will also know the ways to minimise exposure by following specific procedures – knowledge which is essential to protect yourself and your teams.
How much does asbestos awareness training cost?
The average cost for an ‘approved’ asbestos awareness training course is around £65. As with most things these days, training and levels of competence should be maintained. Although there is no requirement to complete an asbestos awareness training course every year, the asbestos guidance states that some form of refresher should be given. The sole purpose for any refresher should simply be to help prevent workers putting themselves or others at risk of being exposed to asbestos.
We would advise that this training is also introduced as part of any new staff induction process.