Training

The use of all asbestos containing materials was not banned until 1999. This means any building built or refurbished before the year 2000 could contain asbestos.

Any worker liable to disturb asbestos while performing their normal everyday work is required to be trained. Every employer must ensure that adequate information, instruction and training are given to those employees who are liable to be exposed to asbestos during the course of their work.

What type of training is necessary?

All workers who are liable to disturb asbestos during their normal work should be trained so that they can recognise asbestos containing materials and know what to do if they come across them. The training needs to be appropriate for the work and the roles undertaken by individuals. Basically there are three types of asbestos training:

  1. Awareness training
  2. Training for work with asbestos that does not require a licence from HSE
  3. Training for work with asbestos that requires a licence from HSE.

Awareness training

This training is for those persons who are liable to disturb asbestos while carrying out their normal everyday work, or who may influence how work is carried out, such as general maintenance workers, tradesmen, engineers, and designers.
You will need awareness training so you know how to avoid the risks and how to protect yourself. Asbestos awareness training should include the following topics:

  •  The properties of asbestos and its effects on health.
  • The types, uses and likely occurrence of asbestos materials in buildings.
  • 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.

Important - Awareness training is not enough if you plan to carry out any work with asbestos containing materials.
Online learning (often referred to as e–learning) is increasingly used as a method of providing asbestos awareness training. E-learning is accepted as a viable delivery method, among others, for the delivery of information, instruction and training in relation to asbestos awareness training, provided the course content satisfies the objectives as stipulated in Regulation 10 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and the supporting Approved Code of Practice.

Training for asbestos work that does not require a licence

This training is for those workers who plan to carry out any work with asbestos that does not require a licence and who may knowingly disturb lower risk asbestos containing materials. It should be provided in addition to asbestos awareness training and should be job specific. Typically, workers who may need this training include those listed under asbestos awareness training and who carry out such tasks as:

  • Drilling holes in asbestos materials (including for sampling and analysis purposes).
  • Working near undamaged asbestos materials.
  • Removing asbestos containing floor tiles.
  • Cleaning or repairing asbestos cement sheet roofing or cladding.
  • Topics covered by this type of training include:
  • How to make suitable and sufficient assessments about the risk of exposure to asbestos.
  • Safe work practices and control measures, including an explanation on the correct use of control measures, protective equipment and work methods.
  • Selection and appropriate use of protective equipment.
  • Waste handling procedures.
  • Emergency procedures.
  • Relevant legal requirements.

Important – This form of training on its own is not sufficient for carrying out licensed work.

Training for asbestos work that does require a licence

Most work with higher risk asbestos containing materials must be carried out by licensed contractors. Only suitably trained workers, using appropriate respiratory protective equipment and who are under suitable medical surveillance can undertake licensed asbestos work. This type of training is therefore required for Operatives, Supervisors and Managers working for a licensed contractor.

Refresher trainingRefresher training should not be a repeat of the initial training. It should be given at least once a year and be appropriate to the workers' familiarity with the work. Therefore, depending on the individual training need it could be a structured update training session or a short toolbox talk refreshing experienced workers of the main principles/ expectations. The training should be tailored to meet the training needs such as teaching a work methods change or the use of new equipment used to control exposure.

What are my responsibilities as an employer?

As an employer you must ensure that:

  • Your employees have the training, knowledge, experience and ability to carry out the work without risk to themselves or others.
  • Supervisors and managers are also trained and aware of their responsibilities
  • The training provider is competent and aware of the tasks that are likely to be carried out by employees.
  • Self employed workers should ensure that they are properly trained to protect themselves and ensure that others are not put at risk from their work activities.

Important - Competent training providers should have adequate practical experience in the asbestos sector and a theoretical knowledge of all relevant aspects of the work being carried out by the employer. It is the responsibility of the employer to determine whether a training provider is suitable or not.