Asbestos awareness training is essential in the workplace, especially when working on buildings constructed before 2000. With asbestos containing materials (ACMs) responsible for 5,000 deaths each year in the UK, there is a legal requirement for employers to train staff on asbestos awareness.

Training plays a vital role in the development of employees, and some training is essential for the health, safety and wellbeing of staff. One of the most pivotal is asbestos awareness training. But how do you pick the right course for your organisation? With two major training associations – the United Kingdom Asbestos Training Association (UKATA) and the Independent Asbestos Training Providers (IATP) – it can seem a confusing choice.

Why training matters

Employers must ensure that adequate information, instruction, supervision and training is given to their employees. They also need to ensure that organisations or individuals who work for them in their supply chain, such as contractors or partners, are competent.

How you achieve this is your responsibility. Training can take many forms and while it is not prescriptive some topics, such as asbestos awareness, may have suggested guidance or a syllabus. It’s worth knowing that there is also no prescribed way to undertake refresher training or requirements around how often refresher training takes place. It’s down to employers to establish a training regime based on evidence that safe systems of work are being applied to work activities.

What is asbestos awareness training?

Asbestos awareness training helps managers, supervisors and workers understand important aspects about the risks from ACMs in premises, plant and equipment. Training minimises the risk of exposure and reduces potential harm.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has a simple syllabus for Asbestos Awareness. It recommends that asbestos awareness courses should cover:
  • Asbestos properties and their effects on health, such as Asbestosis and Mesothelioma, which range from lung scarring to lung cancers;

  • The types, uses and likely occurrence of asbestos and asbestos materials in premises and plant;

  • General procedures in dealing with an emergency, such as the uncontrolled release of asbestos dust into the workplace;

  • How to avoid the risk of exposure to asbestos.

Asbestos awareness eLearning

The HSE recognises that online training (often referred to as eLearning) is an effective way to deliver asbestos awareness training. Online training is a viable way to train employees on asbestos awareness training provided it satisfies the requirements of Regulation 10 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and the supporting Approved Code of Practice L143 ‘Managing and working with asbestos’.

Choosing an asbestos training provider

There are numerous providers of Asbestos Awareness training and to help employers, landlords and duty holders choose the right training providers for their organisation. There are also a range of trade bodies, associations or not-for-profit organisations that provide assurance as to the status of a training provider through evidence and audit. While it’s important to know that while none of these organisations are endorsed by the HSE, they are an important part of the management of asbestos and choosing a bonafide training course.

The two major asbestos training associations in the UK are the United Kingdom Asbestos Training Association (UKATA) and the Independent Asbestos Training Providers (IATP). Both have equal status, however when a client wants to check contractors suitability or competence they may stipulate a particular preference for either the UKATA or IATP. It’s important to remember that it is just a preference – both are equally suitable.

Our Asbestos Awareness course, for example, is approved by both IATP and the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), which has global recognition. Developed by our inhouse chartered safety practitioners and experts, it exceeds the recommended HSE syllabus. Our Asbestos Awareness course is used by thousands of learners who receive a certificate of training on successful completion, which means you can ensure your staff are fully trained and your business compliant with requirements under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

Mike Stevens CMIOSH, FRSP