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National asbestos support group for Wales

An asbestos helpline and support group has been set up in Wales by former firefighter, Edward Gilbertson. Intended to be a place to pool information and resources that will help victims of asbestos, it is likely to be greeted with relief by many families in Wales.

Advice and guidance on what to do if you are worried about historical exposure to asbestos, or simply need to talk over the potential health risks of working with the substance, is available via the group. It could provide a lifeline for people worried about developing an asbestos-related condition, and offer invaluable moral support for existing sufferers.

Founder of the group, Edward Gilbertson was himself diagnosed with an asbestos-related health condition. Pleural plaques affect the outer lining of the lungs, and are caused by breathing in asbestos fibre and dust.

Life-changing effects of asbestos exposure

Conditions related to asbestos often take between 10 and 50 years to develop. Although pleural plaques are not considered life-threatening or cancerous, the debilitating effects leave victims short of breath and unable to live as full a life as they would normally.

Other diseases caused by exposure to asbestos include Mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer. Asbestosis and pleural thickening also lead to chronic respiratory problems and seriously affect quality of life.

Asbestos awareness offers a safeguard against future exposure

Nowadays, workers have access to all the knowledge needed to stay safe should they come into contact with asbestos. Asbestos training courses such as those regulated by the UK Asbestos Training Association (UKATA) can be taken online, with candidates receiving an HSE asbestos certificate on successful completion.

In fact, the Health and Safety Executive enforce regulations for employers to provide this type of training. Asbestos awareness courses fall under Category ‘A’ training, with Category ‘B’ and ‘C’ courses covering asbestos non-licensable and licensable work respectively.

UKATA online training – what does it involve?

Courses generally take around 90 minutes to complete, and finish with a quiz to test candidates’ knowledge and understanding. The following are some of the topics covered by asbestos awareness courses:

  • Various types of asbestos and what they look like
  • Where it might be found within residential and commercial buildings
  • The health risks of being exposed to asbestos dust and fibres
  • What to do should it be uncovered
  • How to deal with an emergency if asbestos dust is released into the air

Training and support for those who need it

Learning a lesson from the past has resulted in many campaign and support groups being set up for those dealing with the after-effects of asbestos exposure. Asbestos training courses form part of this focus on health, and highlight the inherent risks for tradespeople in particular, when working on older buildings constructed prior to the asbestos ban in 1999. The HSE asbestos certificate remains valid for 12 months, after which it is recommended that further refresher training is taken.