During works carried out on a new visitor centre at Stonehenge, the Daily Mail reports that ‘bricks’ of asbestos were brought to the site by mistake. It is understood that this may have contaminated some of the top soil used on improvement works around the site.
English Heritage’s intention to return the former A344 to chalky grassland was disrupted by the fear that the top soil used may have been contaminated with asbestos. The dispute that ensued between English Heritage and the engineering firms involved, led to an investigation to determine exactly what was dumped there.
A World Heritage Site
An English Heritage spokesman explained the impact of the potential presence of asbestos:
“During the works, inspections revealed that the topsoil laid by the contractors on this section did not meet the standards required by English Heritage. Given the importance of the project and the fact that the area concerned sits within a World Heritage Site, we insisted that the contractor replace the topsoil.”
Regular exposure to asbestos is known to cause diseases and aggressive cancers such as mesothelioma, often manifesting decades later, which is why English Heritage were duty-bound to investigate the claims about the presence of the substance.
Asbestos awareness and its impact on health and safety
Being aware of the dangers of asbestos is paramount for many tradespeople involved in work on older buildings. It is a legal requirement for employers to provide training for their workers in these instances, so that they and those around them remain safe should asbestos be uncovered.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is responsible for worker safety in the UK, and enforce the current legislation. Three categories of asbestos training are stipulated by the body:
- Asbestos awareness
- Non-licensable work with asbestos
- Licensable work
It is highly recommended that self-employed people in the trades also undergo asbestos awareness training, with plumbers, plasterers, electricians and heating engineers being among those most at risk of coming into contact with the substance during a normal working day.
What do asbestos training courses involve?
These Category ‘A’ courses as they are also known, cover various aspects including where asbestos might be found within residential and commercial buildings; the effects on the health of anyone exposed to asbestos dust and fibres; what asbestos was used for and what to do should you come into contact with it.
The main message of these courses in terms of what action should be taken if asbestos is uncovered, is to leave it untouched and call for assistance from licensed contractors.
Obtain an HSE asbestos certificate
A downloadable certificate is provided for all successful candidates. This is valid for a year, and bears the UKATA stamp. The UK Asbestos Training Association is the body that sets the standards for training, ensuring that all courses are up-to-date and teach current best practices.
UKATA online training is an easy way to meet HSE requirements, offering flexibility to candidates who can work on their asbestos awareness course from anywhere with an internet connection.