Increased Importance on Asbestos Training Following Law Update

by BritanniaSafety on November 12, 2012

Asbestos is a word that we’ve heard frequently in the news this year, and as a whole it has been a rather eventful year for the man-made fibre.

The media hype surrounding asbestos started in March of this year (2012) when the Supreme Court ruled that liability no longer rested at the time when symptoms appeared but at the initial exposure. As many asbestos-related illnesses do not show any signs until decades after exposure this news gave hope to thousands of families throughout the UK who have lost a loved one, or have a family member suffering through asbestosis, mesothelioma or another related disease. Since then the number of people coming forward to claim compensation has risen significantly but the industry has also seen a change in the laws surrounding working with asbestos to try and protect as many people as possible from the potentially fatal substance.

Although building with asbestos is now illegal, it does not mean to say that the buildings people work in do not contain asbestos. If a building was constructed before the ban then the chances are that it will contain at least some levels of asbestos. Working with asbestos presently comes with the same risks as before, the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 have been active since 6 April 2012, updating the previous regulations in place and taking into account the European Commission’s view that the old regulations did not live up to the standard expected of the EU Directive on exposure to asbestos.

Much has stayed the same, and the new regulations reiterate the need for asbestos awareness training for anyone likely to be exposed to asbestos fibres at work. This includes anyone who may come into contact with the fibre, including those who may disturb the substance such as cable installers as well as individuals involved in asbestos removal.

The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) recommends that all workers who are liable to disturb asbestos during their normal work should be trained, enabling them to recognise asbestos containing materials and also teaching them the best practice about how to react if a situation arises. Taking asbestos awareness training courses hands workers the knowledge to be able to avoid the risks and protect themselves and there are a number of accredited training bodies who offer recognised courses – most of which include refresher training which must take place once a year.

If you are an employer, you are bound by the Health and Safety at Work Act to ensure the health and wellbeing of your employees at work, which will include ensuring that they are equipped to deal with asbestos if they come into contact with the material. You need to ensure that:

  • Employees are competent and can carry out duties without risking their or others’ health
  • Supervisors and managers are fully aware of their responsibilities
  • The company providing training is competent and are aware of the dangers your staff members are likely to come up against.

The following accreditations are recognised by the HSE: British Occupational Hygiene Society, Independent Asbestos Training Providers, United Kingdom Asbestos Training Association and Asbestos Safety Health Environment E-Learning Association.

Exposure to asbestos can result in very serious consequences which is why it is so important that those working under these conditions are properly aware and competent to deal with the risks. Providing training to staff members not only covers your legal obligations as an employer, but also gives you the peace of mind that your staff are safe in the workplace and no harm should come of them.

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