It is important for local authorities to understand the likelihood of asbestos being present in the buildings they control, for the sake not only of their employees, but also members of the public.
Should local authority bosses undergo asbestos awareness training themselves, or at the very least make sure their workers know and understand the dangers involved in handling asbestos?
A good case in point
Lydd Town Council is currently being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after corrugated roofing containing asbestos was removed unsafely from a local sports and social club.
Not only was the council worker untrained in the handling of asbestos, they were clearly unaware of its potential presence and ongoing danger to themselves and others.
The roofing was later removed safely by licensed contractors, but a few small pieces of the material were taken by mistake to a household recycling centre, possibly exposing huge numbers of people to asbestos dust and fibres.
Asbestos awareness training should receive more publicity
It is clear from this case that the dangers of asbestos are not understood by people who could potentially come into contact with it, either when directly working at a site, or indirectly by sending an untrained person to deal with it.
Had staff and bosses at the Lydd Council been aware of the potential presence of asbestos at the sports and social club, they would have understood the need to organise a risk assessment, and to hire someone in possession of an asbestos awareness certificate.
Asbestos awareness training is not costly, either in terms of money or time, and would benefit anyone dealing with buildings in the UK. Courses can be taken online or face-to-face, and a UKATA certificate is provided at the end of the course after the successful completion of a test.