F or many of us the term “Health and Safety” conjures images of bureaucrats ‘interfering’ in our daily lives; an image that the media have contributed to through stories that expose some of the worst examples of health and safety “gone wrong”.
But it’s also really easy to forget why most of the legislation and guidance exists (it’s because people have been hurt before) and that the vast majority of it is very easy to put into practice once you apply a bit of common sense.
Take “asbestos awareness” training; we get plenty of people who feel it doesn’t apply to them or that they “know what they’re doing” so they don’t really need any training. Sadly, even minimal exposure to asbestos can lead to respiratory problems in later life; whether you have done the work yourself or just been in the area while someone else disturbed the asbestos fibres. Asbestos exposure is one of the leading causes of lung cancer but there are some simple steps you can take to reduce the risk to you and those around you.
In the UK, the Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR 2012) set out a common framework for training to be delivered against and there are two main industry bodies that play a role in setting standards. The “UK Asbestos Training Association” (UKATA) and the “Independent Asbestos Training Providers” (IATP) group have both set out a training syllabus that meets the requirements of CAR 2012 with both of the organisations only approving training providers that meet their standards.
Awareness training can be delivered in a classroom or (increasingly) online and covers all of the basic information that you need to minimise your risk. Asbestos exists in many work environments (one of the most common uses was for ceiling tiles) so even if you aren’t a ‘tradesman’ it is usually beneficial to be asbestos aware.
If you feel that you might need some awareness training there are some key questions you need to ask before you pick a provider:
- What do I need for my role? If you’re work involves the licensed or unlicensed removal of asbestos then you will need to prove a higher level of understanding (and competency). For most other people, asbestos awareness will provide you with enough information to minimise your risk.
- What type of learning will work best for me? Awareness training has traditionally been delivered in the classroom (normally ½ a day) but many businesses are finding online courses to be quicker, cheaper and easier for their staff. Pick a supplier that can deliver the training in the format you need.
- Who should deliver the training? Your training provider doesn’t need to have been approved by IATP or UKATA but, in our experience, it’s worth picking one that has as it will give you confidence that their course has been independently assessed and approved
- How often should I sit the training? You only “need” to sit the full course once but, depending on how often you come into contact with asbestos you may need to sit a refresher each year while many of our customers find it useful to sit the full course annually to keep their understanding sharp.
We understand why many people object to “health and safety” but, in the case of asbestos awareness, it’s a simple thing that has been proven to save lives. Can you afford not to be asbestos aware?