The removal of asbestos should only be carried out by contractors who are trained and licensed by the Health and Safety Executive, due to the serious risks posed to health.
For tradespeople and other workers who might come across asbestos during a working day, awareness training covers the dangers of disturbing asbestos, and why it should be avoided.
Online Asbestos Awareness courses take around 90 minutes to complete, and provide all the information needed to stay safe. Topics include:
- What asbestos looks like in its many forms
- Where it was used within buildings, both residential and commercial
- What should be done if it is encountered
- Why these precautions are necessary
With more than 2,000 deaths each year from Mesothelioma – a rare form of cancer that affects the outer lining of the lungs – the provision of training for asbestos awareness is now a legal requirement for UK employers.
Asbestos removed from Chapelcross former nuclear site
A huge operation to remove asbestos from the former nuclear site at Annan in Scotland is the largest in Europe, and has taken eight years to complete. The removal work has been completed ahead of schedule, however, and came in under budget by £5 million according to BBC News.
The hazards of such an extensive operation are considerable, so how were these dangers contained? One of the measures put in place were structures erected around 16 individual heat exchangers, which took two years to build and around 39,000 man-hours in total.
The BBC reports that:
“The scaffolding boards used for the containment, if placed end to end, would have stretched from Manchester to Bristol.”
Three thousand three hundred tonnes of asbestos were removed from the site, with enough asbestos waste to fill four Olympic swimming pools.
How workers were protected on site
Polythene enclosures were used to contain any asbestos dust and fibres circulating in the air around each heat exchanger. Fibre levels were also monitored by asbestos analysts to ensure that workers remained safe.
Management and operations contractor, Magnox, also report that the steelwork used in the containment structures was “fine cleaned and taken back to bare metal before being washed down.”
This project highlights the importance of protecting the health and safety of those dealing with asbestos. The hazardous waste material was taken to a landfill site specifically licensed to accept it.
Asbestos training courses
There are three types of asbestos training:
- Licensed contracting work: dealing with high-risk removal of asbestos
- Non-licensed: lower-risk, usually sporadic short-term work
- Asbestos Awareness: workers will not disturb asbestos if they come across it, but will know what it looks like and understand why they must contact a suitable contractor.
Which type of contractor is required is decided on an individual case basis using risk assessment methods prescribed by the Health and Safety Executive. For Asbestos Awareness courses, one of the main considerations is understanding why the substance must not be moved, other than by a specialist contractor.