Guidance Note 3 - Asbestos awareness training requirements
This Guidance Note gives practical information about asbestos awareness training.
Sample wording for a toolbox talk briefing has been included in Appendix 1. If you wish to use this information to construct your own documents, you must ensure that all references to Alcumus SafeContractor Accreditation have been removed and the final documents are clearly incorporated into your existing safety management system. You should ensure that the information is tailored to reflect the risks of exposure associated with your work activities and your company management procedures.
The Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) 2012 came into force on 6th April 2012, updating previous asbestos regulations.
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.
Therefore, under Regulation 10 of CAR 2012 every employer must ensure that adequate information, instruction and training is given to those employees who are liable to be exposed to asbestos during the course of their work.
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. There are three types of asbestos training:
- Awareness training.
- Training for work with asbestos that does not require a licence from HSE.
- Training for asbestos work that does require a licence from HSE.
Asbestos Awareness Training
- This is required for those persons who are liable to disturb asbestos whilst carrying out their normal everyday work, or who may influence how work is carried out. This includes, for example the following:
- General maintenance staff.
- Gas fitters.
- Painters and decorators.
- Demolition workers.
- Construction workers.
- Heating and ventilation engineers.
- Telecommunications engineers.
- Fire and burglar alarm installers.
- Computer installers.
- Architects, building surveyors and other such professionals.
- Shop fitters etc.
This is not an exhaustive list.
Asbestos awareness training must include the following topics:
- The properties of asbestos and its effects on health.
- The types use and likely occurrence of asbestos and ACMs in buildings and plant.
- The general procedures to be followed to deal with an emergency.
- How to avoid the risks from asbestos.
All information, instruction and training given should include an appropriate level of detail, be suitable to the work being done, and use written materials, oral presentation and practical demonstration as necessary.
In order to meet the requirements of Regulation 10 a competent member of staff needs to run through a training session / toolbox talk with the members of staff and a signed and dated copy of the talk maintained in personnel / training files.
Exemption from training
Exemption from this requirement would apply only where the employer can demonstrate that work will only be carried out in or on buildings free of Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs). This information should be available in the client’s asbestos management plan.
Awareness training is only intended to help employees avoid carrying out work that will disturb asbestos. There is no legal requirement therefore to repeat a formal refresher awareness training course every 12 months. However, some form of refresher awareness should be given, as necessary. Preferably training should be refreshed every 24 months. A common-sense approach to refreshing knowledge and skills, based on judgement of individual abilities and training needs should also be applied. The frequency of training could therefore be based upon several factors, as follows:
- Change in work methods.
- Gaps in competency are identified.
- The type of work carried out changes significantly etc.
This is not an exhaustive list.
Refresher awareness training could be given as e-learning or as part of other health and safety updates, rather than through a formal training course. For example, an employer, manager or supervisor who has attended an awareness course and is competent to do so (see below) could provide internal training based on suitable material.
Competence of those providing training
All training should be provided by someone who is competent to do so. The individual must have adequate personal practical experience and theoretical knowledge of all relevant aspects of the work being carried out by the employer.
Completion of training
In order to complete any form of training session / toolbox talk, best practice would require that you develop a signature sheet detailing who had attended the session / talk, the date and signatures of the attendee’s as proof of understanding and acceptance of the session / talk and associated guidance.
Online learning (often referred to as e–learning) is 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.
All exposures to asbestos should be avoided, however, that does not mean that you should necessarily worry about a one-off exposure. From time to time, accidental exposures to asbestos may occur and can be a cause of much concern and distress to the individuals concerned. Your risk of developing an asbestos-related disease depends how much asbestos you are exposed to, for how long and on how many different occasions. A one-off short-term exposure is unlikely to be of concern, but each time you are exposed, the risk increases a little bit more. Think of this like smoking. The more times you smoke, the greater your risk of developing cancer.
If in doubt: STOP WORK, CLOSE AREA OFF and NOTIFY PERSON IN CHARGE.