A recent article published by the Independent newspaper, states that in 1980 there were just three deaths from mesothelioma among school teachers in the UK. Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Current figures show the number of school teachers dying from the disease has risen to 22 per year, which is the highest rate worldwide.
Additionally, former schoolchildren who were exposed to asbestos dust and fibres are also at risk, with 300 deaths per year being estimated by the Commons Select Committee on Education.
These tragic statistics highlight the need for Asbestos Awareness training for local authority managers and headteachers. Also known as Category ‘A’ training, this has historically only been obligatory for workers and self-employed tradespeople who are likely to come into contact with asbestos during their working day.
The fact that many schools built during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s are likely to contain asbestos in some form, makes the prospect of more cases of mesothelioma almost a certainty.
What is Asbestos Awareness training?
Asbestos Awareness training provides the knowledge to recognise asbestos within a school or any other type of building, and to understand the health risks of coming into contact with it.
Training can be undertaken online or in a classroom environment. Courses cover the different forms of asbestos, where they may lie, and the health consequences of exposure. Candidates learn why asbestos should not be disturbed, and the need to contact licensed contractors to have it removed.
Online Asbestos Awareness courses generally take around 90 minutes in total, and a UK Asbestos Training Association certificate can be downloaded on successful completion.
With the growing number of teachers and former pupils suffering from asbestos-related disease, the need for local education officers, headteachers and school caretaking staff to recognise the substance is increasing.