Asbestos has remained one of the core building components in the construction industry. Since its discovery in the 1700s, it has been abundantly used as a construction material due to its excellent insulation properties.
In 1920 it was classified as a hazardous material known to cause severe health risks and even death. But it wasn’t until 1999 that legislation was passed in the UK that banned all use of asbestos in construction.
And while many people may have heard about it, there are very few who have complete knowledge of it. This article will share important health and safety notes on asbestos in context with the type of training you can get to keep you and your employees safe.
Why is Asbestos Awareness Necessary?
It is the legal duty of construction contractors to provide necessary training in asbestos hazards to their workers. The key purpose of this training is intended to help workers and supervisors remain safe from asbestos hazards and ensure complete legal compliance. It provides detailed information on safety practices vital for preventing exposure to asbestos fibers.
If you do come into contact with asbestos and you haven’t been warned about it, get in touch with an asbestos claims solicitor who can help you.
What is Asbestos Training About?
Asbestos awareness programs are designed to train workers with the essentials on how to protect themselves from asbestos exposure. UKATA or the UK Asbestos Training Association provides detailed content for learning and training regarding asbestos safety. It covers a vast area of hazards and consequences of asbestos exposure.
This training ensures that all people working around asbestos are aware of its hazards and know what to do if an incident arises. It also educates on the steps necessary to deal with such incidents – quickly and safely. Being trained can significantly minimize the risk of exposure and prevent construction companies from the legal consequences.
How Can You Be Exposed to Asbestos?
In most incidents, asbestos gets accidentally disturbed by the worker and the fibers enter the lungs. This often occurs during handling asbestos-containing materials. The ease at which they are diffused into the air depends on the type of ACM.
Asbestos can be released into the air by cutting, sanding, or drilling ACMs. Certain types of ACMs can also be disturbed via simple routine maintenance.
What Are the Health Effects of Asbestos?
Asbestos exposure has been proven to cause different lung conditions and cancers. Mesothelioma is a malignant tumor that deteriorates the lining of the lungs, abdomen, and heart. Mesotheliomas a fatal disease and are often caused due to exposure to asbestos. The life expectancy of a mesothelioma patient is less than a year after diagnosis.
Other conditions include pleural thickening, cancer of the kidney and gastrointestinal tract, and asbestosis. Pleural thickening is when the pleura membrane scars and thickens, leading to severe health conditions such as cancer. A chronic lung, asbestosis is caused by inhaling asbestos fibers that get trapped in the body. Unfortunately, asbestosis is often challenging to identify in the early stages and can take some time before showing symptoms. It usually becomes fatal by that time.
According to UKATA, there are over 5000 asbestos-related deaths in the UK every year. In addition, it was estimated by HSE that nearly 20 tradesmen die each week due to past exposures to asbestos.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also revealed that over 125 million people worldwide have been reported exposed to asbestos.
Being trained and aware to handle asbestos-related dangers is therefore crucial to prevent health risks and fatalities in your workforce.
Who Requires an Asbestos Awareness Certificate?
Having Asbestos Awareness Certificate is mandatory for anyone working on or around buildings built before 2000. Workers on the site will remain at a huge risk of inhaling asbestos fibers if not adequately trained. Those most at risk include:
- General Maintenance Workers
- Construction Workers
- Building Surveyors
- Heating Engineers
- Fire Alarm Installers
What is UKATA?
UKATA was founded in 2008 as a non-profit organization and has since remained at the forefront of asbestos training and awareness. Due to its high standards of training, it soon became the number one training association for asbestos. It is certified by the HSE and follows strict adherence to the current legislation and guidance of the UK government.
Workers who complete the UKATA asbestos course are awarded the Asbestos Risk Awareness Certificate, an industry-recognized acknowledgment.
What Are the Types of Asbestos Training
UKATA offers 3 main levels of asbestos training. It is formed in compliance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations (2012) to provide all the necessary information, instruction, and training. Due to the type of work, risk profiles, and locations of asbestos-containing materials or ACMs, asbestos training is divided into 3 categories.
Asbestos awareness training is a basic level training made for workers who indirectly work with, or around ACMs. These workers are still at risk of being exposed so the training focuses on spreading awareness about avoiding risks and avoid disturbing ACMs.
Notifiable Non-licensable Work with Asbestos (NNLW)
NNLW is the type of training necessary for workers who are directly involved with or disturbing ACMs in some capacity. Therefore, the training course provides a higher level of information and instruction to mitigate any accidents while working in ACM sites.
Licensable Work with Asbestos
This type of training is mandatory for workers who are involved in high-risk activities such as working with, disturbing, removing, or repairing ACMs. Such skills are learned through practical training and require a high level of safety measures before any work can be carried out.
Where to Get Health and Safety Training?
Meeting the legal obligations is imperative for construction employers. There are a number of ways you can get your workforce trained and certified. To make things easier, you can get online asbestos training to minimize costs associated with on-site programs. In addition, e-learning providers such as Human Focus offer UKATA asbestos awareness online course.
These courses are available on desktop, laptop, and tablet devices and can be tracked through your online dashboard. They offer interactive videos, tests, and quizzes in each module to check that trainees have gained the relevant information.
You can also select a plethora of language options for immigrant workers who cannot read or speak English properly.