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A short guide to working safely with asbestos containing materials

An employee walking past materials containing asbestos

Up until 1999, asbestos was used as a building material, valued for its durability and heat resistance. It was often used, and can still be found in insulation, flooring, roofing, and sprayed onto ceilings and walls.

However, when asbestos is broken down into miniscule fibres and then inhaled, it can lead to a number of life-threatening diseases including mesothelioma and lung cancer. This is why managing and protecting your staff from asbestos in the workplace is so important.

With that said, those working in high-risk environments must be provided with all the necessary information on working safely with asbestos containing materials.

We have answered a few frequently asked questions surrounding working safely with asbestos in the workplace…

Is it safe to work in a room with asbestos?

It is extremely unlikely that a person would ever be harmed by undisturbed asbestos, which means it is safe to be in a room where asbestos is present.

However, some trades involve a higher risk of asbestos exposure than others, especially if they are working on the site of a damaged building built before the year 2000.

The HSE provides guidance for workers leading a job that might involve asbestos.

How can you reduce the risks of asbestos exposure?

Managers should implement the appropriate measures to reduce the risks of asbestos exposure in the workplace. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • Can you avoid using asbestos-containing materials?
  • Has everyone on site and involved with the project has received adequate training?
  • Does everyone understand the plan of work?
  • Has somebody inspected the work area at the end of the job and is there debris or dust?
  • Have you made arrangements for the safe disposal of waste products?

Key considerations for workers include:

  • Have you received adequate training?
  • Can you eat, drink, or smoke away from the work area?
  • Are you using the equipment you’ve been provided with?
  • Have you cleaned up after yourself?
  • If you have any concerns, have you raised them with your manager?

What training is required to work with asbestos?

Every employer has a legal duty to ensure that adequate information, instruction, and training is given to any worker. This is a key factor in ensuring all staff are protected from asbestos in the workplace, regardless of their role. 

However, there is no mandatory endorsement, no organisation, or company whose training certificate must be awarded to satisfy this legal requirement.

There is a common misconception that UKATA approved training must be given to all employees, which we have debunked in our blog.

Those who are at risk of exposure should be provided with training that familiarises them with the risk of exposure, best practices, what to do if you have been exposed, and the long term health effects. This will give your employees all the tools needed to work safely with asbestos containing materials.

Here at iHASCO, we offer an online Asbestos Awareness Training course that has been designed for anyone who works with, or might potentially come into contact with asbestos at work.

The IATP & IOSH Approved training course can be completed in just 35 minutes and provides the user with a printable certificate upon completion of the end-of-training test.

You can claim a free, no-obligation trial to the course today! Alternatively, you can request a bespoke quote and a member of our team will be in touch to discuss your training requirements.

Online Asbestos Awareness Training