Asbestos Awareness in 2021
Are your employees safe?
The silent killer is still out there.
You cannot always see it.
You do not always know it is present.
And it kills over 5000 people in the UK alone each year *
It was hailed once, as the miracle building material – versatile, strong, resistant to water , it seemed too good to be true?
And so it proved. It has also been hailed as one of the most dangerous building materials ever invented.
By now, many of you will know we are talking about Asbestos.
Asbestos related deaths account for over 5000 people alone in the UK.
Of this figure, the deaths (according to HSE statistics) are chiefly caused by Asbestos related lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Does this affect me though?
Those of us who work in any capacity in the construction industry are particularly at risk.
For a start, any building built before 2000 is likely to contain some form of Asbestos.
Right up until 1999, Asbestos was used widely in the building and construction industries.
The Asbestos (Prohibitions)(Amendment) Regulations 1999 effectively banned both importation of Asbestos to the UK and the use of all asbestos.
The following trades are particularly likely to come into contact with materials containing asbestos at some point:
- General maintenance workers
- Painters & decorators
- Construction workers
- Shop fitters
- Gas fitters
- Heating & ventilation engineers
- Demolition workers
- Telecommunication engineers
- Fire/burglar alarm installers
- Computer & data installers
- Building surveyors
That’s quite a list isn’t it?
We can also include employers of the above and the self-employed or sub-contractors.
Check out this HSE prosecution which took place on 16th November 2020.
So How Do I Protect Myself Or My Employees?
The key point here is AWARENESS.
We often think we know all the facts when we don’t.
We are often complacent, ignorant of the facts or sometimes…. simply need reminding?
The danger of working where Asbestos may be present is increased by the following:
- You often cannot detect its presence by sight.
- It is present in fixtures and fittings and a bewildering variety of settings.
- The nature of the work carried out by trades people
- If you inhale Asbestos fibres, you may not fall ill for a number of years.
ASBESTOS AWARENESS COMES THROUGH TRAINING.
There are 3 main levels of Asbestos training and instruction. These are as follows:
- Asbestos awareness
- Non-licensable work with asbestos including NNLW
- Licensable work with asbestos.
Let’s begin with level one – Asbestos awareness.
According to HSE, any awareness training for Asbestos should cover the following key issues:
- The properties of asbestos and its effects on health, including the increased risk of developing lung cancer for asbestos workers who smoke.
- The types, uses and likely occurrence of asbestos and asbestos materials in buildings and plant.
- The general procedures to deal with an emergency, e.g. an uncontrolled release of asbestos dust into the workplace.
- How to avoid the risk of exposure to asbestos.
How Can I access This Type of Training?
There are various training companies who cover Asbestos awareness. They can carry out this training online or in person.
Green Hat offers an online solution that has proved to be a popular choice for busy people and companies in the construction industry.
The short video below will give you a quick overview of the course and what it covers.
The Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) applies to employers, the self employed, duty holders, and employees.
Section 10 of CAR makes clear that there is a clear responsibility for employers to give adequate training and instruction and information to any employees who might come into contact with Asbestos.
Just think of the following daily activities that are carried out on any site or building repair or refurbishment:
- drilling holes in asbestos materials (including for sampling and analysis purposes)
- laying cables in areas containing undamaged asbestos materials.
- removing asbestos-containing floor tiles/
- cleaning or repairing asbestos cement sheet roofing or cladding.
Remember over 5000 people per year die through exposure to Asbestos.
Yes, these are bare cold statistics.
Being made aware, being informed, being trained is the first step to avoid these unnecessary deaths.