Asbestos is naturally-occurring, silicate mineral, composed of flexible fibres. Asbestos has many useful properties, for instance, it’s both strong and flexible, it doesn’t burn or conduct heat or electricity and it has good chemical resistance.
These properties have made it very useful in many applications In construction, asbestos was supplied as raw, processed fibre for use as a loose material, or for incorporation into asbestos containing materials (ACM’s). Fibres were mixed with a bonding agent, which held the fibres together. These were often applied as a sprayed coating.
Asbestos was also mixed with bonding material, for the manufacture of asbestos cement roof sheets, pipes and gutters
Modern industrial use of asbestos dates from the late 1800s however the majority of asbestos usage followed with the end of World War 2.
In the 1950s post-war building boom, asbestos was a cheap and versatile material and as a result, was heavily used in construction applications. It was still heavily used until the end of the 1970s but has been phased out nd banned in many countries.
In the UK, blue and brown asbestos were banned in 1985 and white asbestos was banned in 1999.
As such, asbestos can be found in many buildings built before the year 2000. HSE states that asbestos is not a problem of the past; it is still found in schools buildings, offices, hospitals, and houses built before the year 2000 and causes an estimated 5000 fatalities each year in the UK.
Asbestos materials are not considered harmful unless they are disturbed and become friable.
Any damage and deterioration increases the friability of ACMs. Water damage or any physical impact such as cutting, grinding, or drilling breaks down the material and makes fibre release more likely.
For example, asbestos-containing floor tiles, ceiling tiles, shingles, etc. do not release asbestos fibres unless disturbed in some way. If a ceiling tile is drilled, it may release fibres into the air while, if left undisturbed, it will not.
These fibres on releasing into the air, can be easily inhaled, and cause several serious diseases. The diseases do not impact the human body immediately. They take years to develop, and when diagnosed, it is too late to do anything for the successful treatment. Hence, this hazardous material awareness is important to protect employees who are at risk of asbestos exposure.
When material such as dust is inhaled, it is usually prevented from entering the lungs by various parts of the respiratory system. Reflex mechanisms, such as coughing, force such material from the lungs.
However, due to their extremely small size, asbestos fibres can be drawn into the deepest part of the lung leading, in some cases, to serious health problems as their unique needle-like shape allows them to penetrate the soft lining of the lungs
There are 4 known illnesses the cause of which can be directly attributed to exposure to asbestos fibres.
It is the employer’s duty to ensure that an employee who is liable to disturb asbestos during his normal work or supervises other employees working with asbestos gets the right level of information, instruction, and training to work safely.
There are three levels of information, instruction and information
- Asbestos awareness
- Non-licensable work with asbestos including NNLW
- Licensable work with asbestos
The e-Learning courses available via Human Focus covers the Asbestos Awareness level of information, instruction, and training, as outlining on the HSE website.
As such, they are only intended to offer trainees the information needed to avoid work tasks that could disturb the asbestos fibres in buildings or other items that might contain asbestos.
The courses also provide information regarding emergency procedures, should anyone comes in close contact with asbestos-containing materials – unintentionally.
This level of training DOES NOT prepare or authorise anyone to carry out work with ACMs (asbestos-containing materials). If an employee or contractor plans to carry out work that might disturb ACMs, specific, specialised information, training and instruction will be required.
e-Learning is progressively used as a means of offering asbestos awareness training. Health and Safety Executive acknowledges online learning as a useful delivery method for asbestos awareness training, among others. It meets the criteria of Regulation 10 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and supports Approved Code of Practice L143 ‘Managing and working with asbestos’.
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, was introduced on 6th April, 2012. It came into force to protect the workers who are unknowingly exposed to asbestos fibres during work activities.
The regulations require employers to not only determine but locate, record, and manage the presence of asbestos. This helps workers coming into close contact with it to be well informed and take suitable precautionary measures.
Human Focus is currently offering the following list of programmes regarding asbestos awareness:
The asbestos awareness online courses available on the Human Focus LMS do not require any prior subject knowledge or any course certification for registering in these online e-learning courses.
The Asbestos Awareness Courses available cover what asbestos is, its typical locations, associated legislation and health risks. It develops trainees’ knowledge to help them protect themselves from risk of asbestos exposure.
The Asbestos Duty To Manage course is designed for the asbestos Duty Holders and Appointed Persons who manage non-domestic premises. These duty holders are responsible for protecting anyone who works, or uses such premises, from the potential risks of exposure to asbestos, It provides an understanding of what asbestos management is, the legal structure that governs asbestos legislation, health and safety legislation in general and Asbestos Legislation, CDM Regulations and RIDDOR 2013 in particular.
By the end of this e-learning course, trainees will have learnt the following:
- Nature of asbestos and how it can affect human health
- Asbestos types, uses, and its typical locations
- Asbestos legislation about its control
- Steps to minimise the asbestos risks at work
- Awareness of risk assessment process to avoid the asbestos dangers before commencing work
- Suitable emergency procedures to follow on coming in unintentional close contact with ACMs (Asbestos-containing materials)
On completion of this course, delegates will have learned about:
- Relevant asbestos legislation and guidance
- Duty holders and their key responsibilities
- Asbestos surveys and development of management plans to eliminate the asbestos dangers
- Risk assessment process of the exposure to asbestos and control measures to minimise the associated risks
At the end of this online asbestos course, trainees will have an understanding of the following:
- Nature and properties of asbestos & its hazardous effect on human health
- Types, uses, and locations of asbestos in buildings built before year 2000
- Legislations, in general, to reduce the risks of asbestos whilst working
- Practical steps to minimise the risk of asbestos exposure
- Pre-work assessment process to eliminate the risks of asbestos in premises
- Emergency procedures in case of unintentional close contact with ACMS (asbestos-containing materials)
Organisations should choose Human Focus for their Asbestos Awareness e-learning courses because:
- Course content meets compliance with health and safety legislation
- Offers great flexibility – the asbestos awareness courses can be taken using a PC, tablet, or laptop. However, these courses cannot be taken on a smartphone
- Immediately available e-certificates approved by the authoritative bodies on successful completion of training courses
- Offer a convenient learning experience! The Human Focus system allows trainees to take the course in one go or in bite-size chunks. The LMS (learning management system) bookmarks trainee progress with the course and allows learning at their convenience
- Cost and time-saving e-learning courses – trainees don’t need to visit training centres
- Immediate start right after the registration
- Course content comprises of premium quality videos and animations to offer an engaging learning experience
The Human Focus asbestos awareness online courses are approved by either UKATA or IATP (depending on which course you decide suits your needs). Both UKATA and IATP are recognised throughout industry and Asbestos Awareness training is a minimum requirement on many construction and demolition projects.
UKATA asbestos awareness programme falls in category A. This means the training is only intended to make trainees aware of the dangers associated with asbestos. It does NOT train employees to work with any ACMs (asbestos-containing materials).
Similarly, IATP asbestos awareness and IATP Asbestos Duty To Manage programmes aim to develop trainee awareness about the dangers of asbestos. They do not authorise anyone to work with any asbestos in the work environment.
All the programmes listed conclude with a knowledge test to assess the trainee’s learning. There are small section-quizzes in each programme to ensure maximum trainee engagement.
Human Focus LMS stores e-certificates, training progress, and results, which are accessible at all times. Therefore, this data acts as proof of awareness compliance.
The training certificates are available in PDF format that display trainee name, course name, completion, and expiry date, where applicable.
The UKATA asbestos awareness certificate is valid for 1 year, while the IATP asbestos programmes have a validity period of 3 years each.
The current Regulations place a legal duty on employers to provide information, instruction and training to any of their employees who are likely to be exposed to asbestos as part of their work. The three main types of information, instruction, and training are:
- Asbestos awareness training
- Training for non-licensable asbestos work – ie the type of work described in HSE’s Asbestos essentials
- Training for licensable asbestos work
Further information about asbestos training can be found here.
For asbestos awareness training, employees do not need to repeat the full training programme each year. However, suitable refresher training can be provided to keep them informed about health and safety updates.
It is a legal requirement for employers under The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. It applies to the owners of commercial premises who are responsible for repair and maintenance activities. In addition to responsibilities, they must assess the location and condition of ACMs. If asbestos is present, they are legally bound to manage it appropriately to reduce the risks of asbestos exposure whilst working.