What is an Asbestos Awareness Course?
If your type of work involved potential close contact and exposure to asbestos then it’s imperative that you take an asbestos awareness course. These courses are intended to educate employees and give them the tools and knowledge they need to avoid contamination and prevent any potential health hazards. Below, we look at asbestos awareness courses in greater detail.
What to Expect from an Asbestos Awareness Course
So you can choose a suitable course, it’s important to understand the bare essentials that should be covered, and these include:
· The appearance and properties of asbestos and how to identify the different types.
· The dangers of asbestos exposure and the relevant health complications.
· Common types and uses of asbestos in building and plant environments.
· Learning control measures to avoid asbestos exposure.
· Emergency procedures to follow should asbestos dust be released.
This is essentially a “beginners” crash course to asbestos and it aims to allow you to identify it on site, understand the potential dangers, and learn where you will commonly find it. You should also gain actionable advice on how to avoid exposure, and what to do if an emergency happens.
It’s also important to note that this is the first level of asbestos training and taking an asbestos awareness course does NOT mean you can work with and remove this dangerous substance. The HSE defines three levels of asbestos training:
· Asbestos awareness
· NNLW (Non-Licensed Work, Including Notifiable Non-License Work)
· Licensed work with asbestos
Asbestos awareness is the base level of training and meant to help you AVOID contact with the substance. NNLW training is intended for those who have to disturb asbestos including drilling holes in it and removing contaminated items.
Licensed work with asbestos is the highest level and intended for licensed contractors – companies that specialize in asbestos removal. You can find more info about NNLW and Licensed work with asbestos via these HSE resources – Asbestos: The Licensed Contractor’s Guide, and Managing and Working With Asbestos.
Who Should Take an Asbestos Awareness Course?
Not everyone in the workplace needs to take an asbestos awareness course. It is advisable if your building is known to contain asbestos, for your staff to have training, however. Also, the following professions are some examples of those who need to take an asbestos awareness course:
· General maintenance workers
· Shop fitters
· Demolition workers
· Building surveyors
This is not a complete list, and you can find a full list of advised workers on the HSE training website that we previously referenced.
Why is it Important to Take an Asbestos Awareness Course?
As you are probably aware, asbestos is incredibly hazardous and can cause a range of health problems including Mesothelioma (a type of potentially fatal lung cancer), asbestosis (scarring of the lungs), pleural disease, and other respiratory problems.
This is why it is important to take an asbestos awareness course if you may come into contact with the substance during your work. If you do not know how to spot asbestos, or how to work safely around it, you could easily disturb the fibres and inadvertently breath them in – this puts both you and those you are working with at risk.
Asbestos awareness courses are a preventative measure to ensure you can avoid exposure.
Is it a legal requirement to have asbestos awareness training?
Yes, for workers who will regularly come into contact with asbestos as per Regulation 10 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. Asbestos awareness training must be given and it’s advised that regular refresher courses are also taken.
Does asbestos awareness training cover you to remove asbestos?
No. Asbestos awareness training is only used so that you can work safely if the mineral is present on site and understand how to avoid contamination from it. You need further training and qualifications to be able to remove and work with asbestos.
How often do you need a refresher on asbestos awareness training?
The HSE advises that you should take a refresher course for asbestos awareness training every 12 months although this is not a legal requirement. Refresher courses help keep your knowledge current and make sure you are up to date with the latest information relating to asbestos.
Can you take an asbestos awareness course online?
Yes! Many vendors provide an online asbestos awareness course that still gives you an IATP certificate. This is far more convenient and means you don’t have to travel or take a day away from work.
 – HSE – Asbestos: The Licensed Contractor’s Guide
 – HSE – Managing and Working With Asbestos