The importance of asbestos awareness has been in the news once again as Liverpool NHS Trust is prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Having not acted upon an asbestos warning included in a 2006 survey on a basement in one of their buildings, the Trust received a fine of £10,000 in February this year.
NHS workers were exposed to asbestos in a basement storage area that held patient records. The 2006 survey had recommended further assessments be carried out to establish likely areas where asbestos might be present, but the Trust failed to take any further action.
It was only when the NHS health and safety manager spotted damage to the doors of a goods lift in the basement, that suspicions regarding the presence of asbestos were raised. Not only was asbestos found to be in the lift doors, it was also discovered in other parts of the basement frequented by staff.
HSE Asbestos Awareness Training
The provision of Asbestos Awareness Training is a legal obligation for employers in the UK, with training courses identifying the likely whereabouts of asbestos in commercial and other buildings, as well as what to do if it is found.
Known as ‘the silent killer,’ asbestos is common in buildings constructed during the 1960s and 1970s, but the fact that the substance wasn’t made illegal until 2000 means that any building constructed up until this point could contain the lethal substance.
It’s often the case that the after-effects of exposure to asbestos are felt decades later, hence the need for extra vigilance as to its whereabouts and appearance.
Taking a UKATA Asbestos Awareness Training course helps workers to stay safe, but is also valuable for public sector managers with responsibility for the health and safety of their staff.