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By law, if you are an employer then you must ensure that anyone you employ who is likely to disturb asbestos as part of their daily work receives the correct information and training.
With the correct knowledge and training, workers and supervisors will be able to recognise asbestos containing materials, know how to deal with them and carry out their work both safely and competently, avoiding risk to themselves and others.
However, it’s important to note that workers will not be classed as fully competent by just attending an asbestos training course alone.
Becoming competent in regards to working with asbestos takes time and involves a combination of lots of on the job learning and training.
Each employee, worker or supervisor will require a different level of training and knowledge to reflect the type of work they do.
So who needs to have asbestos awareness training?
Asbestos awareness training is aimed at workers and supervisors so that they have the information they need to avoid any work that may disturb asbestos within the fabric of a building.
Although contractors will need to have asbestos awareness training, this alone will not enable them to actually work with asbestos containing materials.
Self employed contractors will need further information and training, besides just basic asbestos awareness, if they will disturb asbestos materials as part of their everyday work.
There are many different types of contractors that will need to have further training such as those listed below:-
Self employed workers and contractors should make sure they have the right level of training in order to both protect themselves and others from risk of exposure to asbestos while carrying out their work.
Asbestos awareness training should provide the learner with information on the different types of asbestos, the effects of asbestos on health, minimising the risk of exposure to asbestos and what to do in an emergency situation if asbestos dust is released into the atmosphere.
As outlined above, certain types of workers, tradesmen and contractors will need more knowledge and training if they work in a job where they are more than likely to disturb asbestos containing materials.
Common types of work where asbestos could be disturbed include removing asbestos floor and ceiling tiles, drilling holes into asbestos walls and other asbestos materials and working with asbestos cement roofs or sheeting.
Some types of non licensed asbestos work will be classed as notifiable (NNLW) due to the type and condition of asbestos, meaning you must notify work with asbestos to the relevant enforcing authority.
Whether it’s non licensed work or NNLW, the training for working with asbestos materials should cover a variety of topics such as:-
Employers should also ensure that workers carrying out any work with asbestos are prepared in advance.
Prior to any work commencing, workers should be shown copies of the risk assessment and plan of work together with any details and results of any air monitoring, where applicable.
Certain types of work with asbestos will require a licensed contractor.
An asbestos license is required when working with higher risk asbestos containing materials.
Licensed contractors need to be provided with additional information and training to make them competent to work with higher risk asbestos materials.
Only appropriately trained workers using the correct respiratory and other protective equipment are able to undertake licensed asbestos work by law.
Again, any workers carrying out licensable work with asbestos should be provided with extra information by their employer ready for the task in hand such as copies of the risk assessment, plan of work and any results of air monitoring.
In addition, workers need to be informed of any details of notification of work that has been made to the enforcing authority, as well as general information such as maintenance records, a copy of the licence, face fit test results and training/health records.
If you have completed a classroom based full asbestos awareness training course, then there is no legal requirement for you to have to sit the entire course again in 12 months time.
Instead, you could do an online asbestos awareness course to keep your knowledge up to date, or receive an update from an employer or manager who has recently taken the full asbestos awareness course.
Workers who have been trained in licensable or non licensable work do not have to do any form of refresher for basic asbestos awareness training.
Refresher training for licensed and non licensed work with asbestos should be carried out every 12 months and should be appropriate to the type of work.
Or it may need to be provided more frequently than this depending on certain conditions, such as if the type of work carried out changes significantly, there are changes in work methods and equipment used, or if the worker displays incompetency.
Any workers identified as having extensive training needs will have to have classroom and practical refresher training.
Those workers identified as needing additional practical training should be refreshed on decontamination procedures, use of RPE and PPE and also on controlled removal techniques.
More experienced workers can do an online refresher course or receive health and safety updates from a trained and competent employer, manager or supervisor.
Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t actually a legal requirement for workers to hold a certificate to say that they’ve had asbestos training in order for them to work with asbestos.
So although most training providers will issue certificates to learners as proof of training, having a certificate is not actually considered to be proof of competency to do the job.
Saying that, it doesn’t do any harm having a certificate as it does show that someone has had the relevant asbestos training.
Asbestos training certificates usually expire after 12 months, which is when a refresher course will be required.
Keeping records of worker’s training is very important for a number of reasons.
Record keeping helps employers to monitor their employees training needs, it can help in complying with the licensing process, and it can aid workers if they should change jobs and move to another employer as it shows their training history and demonstrates their skills and knowledge.
Competent training providers should have plenty of hands-on practical experience and knowledge that has been gained within the asbestos industry.
Many training providers will have worked as Surveyors or Removal Operatives within the industry for example.
It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that the training provider they select is adequate in delivering high quality asbestos training to their employees.
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