According to the Health and Safety Executive, asbestos exposure is responsible for 5,000 deaths every year. The effects of exposure to asbestos are cumulative and can take between 15 – 60 years to become evident, therefore younger people are at a greater risk of asbestos related death.
The HSE specifies that employers are responsible for ensuring anyone who may cause disturbance to asbestos whilst carrying out their job undertakes appropriate training. Supervisors and workers must both be capable of recognising asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). They must also be trained in how to protect themselves and those nearby, should they encounter ACMs.
The level of training should be appropriate to the role of each worker to ensure the correct level of competence is attained.
Workers and supervisors who are not tasked with carrying out work that will actually disturb asbestos require sufficient training to enable them to identify ACMs and avoid any work that might disturb the asbestos. This training is asbestos awareness training.
Further levels of training should be employed for workers and supervisors who are likely to disturb ACMs: non-licensable work with asbestos and licensable work with asbestos.
A suitable training course will give the tools and knowledge required. Competence in application will build over time, with on-the-job learning to consolidate the skills learnt on the course.
A good asbestos awareness training course should include a history of asbestos, its properties and where it is likely to be used. Trainees should be made aware of the health hazards and risks and the legislation surrounding asbestos.
Asbestos awareness courses such as those offered by UK Commercial Group Ltd will also include training in:
- The recognition of ACMs;
- The appropriate personal protective equipment and respiratory protective equipment that should be worn;
- Emergency decontamination procedures that should be followed in the event of an accidental disturbance.
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