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Asbestos danger lurking in our homes

The dangers posed by asbestos have become all too real for a family in Wales. The contractors hired to refit their kitchen failed to deal correctly with floor tiles containing asbestos, which led to fibres and dust being released into the air.

Father of their two young children, Kevin Henry, notified the council of his concerns and an asbestos contractor was dispatched to review the situation. Wrexham council had sanctioned the kitchen refit using their own contractors, as the property is council-owned.

The fact that the kitchen fitters should have been aware of the potential presence of asbestos given the age of the property highlights the need for targeted asbestos awareness programmes for workers in this situation.

Understanding where asbestos-containing materials were used within a residence, and why they should remain undisturbed, protects the safety of workers and householders alike. Any release of fibre and dust is a potential health problem, and the Health and Safety Executive take great pains to promote the need for specific asbestos awareness training.

Asbestos training courses and the legal obligation for employers

Employers in the UK are obliged by law to provide asbestos training appropriate to their workers’ duties. If it is thought that they might come into contact with the substance during a normal working day, appropriate training must be provided.

The initial stage of learning is asbestos awareness, which is vital if tradespeople and other workers associated with the construction industry are to remain safe.

The Health and Safety Executive is the body responsible for the safety of workers in this situation, and oversee various categories of training to include licensed and non-licensed operations, as well as asbestos awareness.

UKATA online training offers employers reassurance that each course includes current best practices, with the courses on offer being regularly reviewed. The UK Asbestos Training Association also provides an HSE asbestos certificate at the end of training. This remains valid for 12 months and can aid a worker’s career by demonstrating commitment to health and safety.

Could asbestos awareness training have averted the incident?

Although told by Wrexham Council that his house was “deemed safe” Mr Henry remains fearful for the future health of his family, and has been advised to record the incident with his GP for reference purposes.

Mr Henry put in writing to the local council his worries about what happened in his home:

“We believe the standard of asbestos removal from our kitchen has been so low, that without doubt we have been exposed to unquantified levels of airborne asbestos fibre concentration.”

Clearly of great concern, the situation brings to light the question of whether the kitchen contractors had undergone specific training about asbestos.

A flexible and cost-effective way to learn

The advantages of online learning have long been documented, and for good reason. It offers a great deal of flexibility, with workers being able to complete courses either in the workplace or at home.

Only taking around 90 minutes to complete, asbestos awareness training protects both employed and self-employed tradespeople from the dangers of asbestos.