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HSE Asbestos Awareness Campaign Intended to Supplement Training

A web app introduced by the Health and Safety Executive in October last year, as part of their ‘Beware Asbestos’ campaign, has been criticised by the UK Asbestos Training Association (UKATA).

A spokesperson from UKATA was quoted as saying:

“The app gives a false impression of asbestos related risk and can even encourage untrained personnel to perform asbestos work.”

Why was the app introduced?

The idea behind the app was to provide useful information about where asbestos may be hiding, to trades people untrained in its handling and not legally in a position to deal with it. It was introduced so that, on coming across potential sources of asbestos, workers would be prompted to contact a specialist with the required training.

The Health and Safety Executive had this to say in reply to UKATA:

“The web app is very clear in stating what work should not be done and when licensed contractors are needed.”

Support for existing guidance

HSE insist that this web app, and the information contained within it, is intended to supplement existing advice and training, not replace it or encourage people to deal with asbestos without the proper training.

UKATA’s strong stance on the subject appears to have shocked the Health and Safety Executive, however, who are one of the bodies responsible for enforcing asbestos legislation.

HSE reinforce their intentions for the app on their website:

“The web app is very clear in stating what jobs tradespeople must not do, and indeed helps them to find and contact licensed asbestos contractors in their area who can do those jobs for them.”

The app provides basic information and may offer useful guidance that consolidates a worker’s existing knowledge. Asbestos Awareness training is a legal requirement for people who might come into contact with the substance during the course of their working day.