Employers are under a legal obligation to make sure their staff undergo Asbestos Awareness training if they could come into contact with asbestos whilst working. The consequences of avoiding this duty of care are severe, as has been experienced recently by a construction company in Suffolk.
Prosecution for breaching the Control of Asbestos Regulations
According to the HSE website, the company failed to meet their obligations on several levels:
- They told the farmer whose building they were working on that they held a licence to remove asbestos.
- Workers untrained in dealing with licensed asbestos were exposed to the substance and provided with insufficient protective equipment. Not only that, they were given no more than baby wipes and cold water to decontaminate after finishing the work.
- Workers were allowed to remain in potentially contaminated overalls whilst eating their lunch, so increasing the risk of secondary exposure.
The company in question was fined £10,000 for breaching the Control of Asbestos Regulations and also the Work at Height Regulations. Additionally they had to pay costs of more than £3,000.
Asbestos Awareness training courses
These courses can be completed online, and generally take around 90 minutes in total. Classroom courses are also available but are location dependent, and potentially not as convenient as the e-learning option.
Following completion of the Category A course, a downloadable certificate bearing the UK Asbestos Training Association name can be printed off, and this is valid for 12 months. After the initial training, employers are encouraged by the Health and Safety Executive to provide refresher training courses, but this is not a legal requirement.
As you can see from the case described above, the legal ramifications for employers of ignoring their obligations are severe. It could mean a fine, bad publicity, and in some cases even closure.