25 July 2013
The Health and Safety Inspectorate has become aware that there is some confusion regarding the provision of asbestos training for operatives working in the construction industry, and in particular, the purpose and scope of basic asbestos awareness training. This article therefore seeks to clarify the legal position.
Basic asbestos awareness training
Basic asbestos awareness training is required for all operatives whose work could forseeably expose them to asbestos whilst carrying out their day-to-day work. Due to the considerable amounts of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) still remaining in-situ in buildings and structures in Jersey, anybody working in the demolition, refurbishment, maintenance and allied trades where their work may disturb the fabric of the building must receive asbestos awareness training. In practice this includes labourers, electricians, plumbers, cable layers, carpenters etc.
In general terms the training should cover:
- the properties of asbestos and its effect on health, including the increased risk of lung cancer for those who smoke
- the types, uses and likely occurrence of asbestos ad ACMs in buildings and plant
- the general procedures to follow in the event of inadvertent damage to an ACM
- how to avoid the risks from asbestos, including the importance of checking that an appropriate asbestos survey has been carried out
Please note: This level of training does not enable a person to intentionally work on, or remove, any non-licensed ACMs, including asbestos cement.
Training for those intending to disturb non-licensed ACMs
In addition to basic asbestos awareness training, persons who knowingly disturb or remove non-licensed ACMs, such as asbestos cement, textured coatings such as artex, vinyl floor tiles etc need additional training, specific to the risks associated with this type of work. This will include general labourers, roofers and demolition operatives removing asbestos cement roof sheets.
In general terms this training will include (in addition to the matters covered in basic asbestos awareness training):
- safe work practices
- assessment and correct use of control measures and protective equipment
- decontamination procedures
- waste handling procedures
- emergency procedures
- relevant asbestos related legislation
Please note: Anybody intending to carry out work with non-licensed ACMs must also contact their insurers to ensure that their Employers' Liability Insurance policy extends to cover such work.
Work with licensed ACMs
In almost all cases, work with asbestos insulation, asbestos insulation board and asbestos coatings (other than textured decorative coatings) can only be carried out by specialist contractors who hold a licence issued by the Minister for Social Security for such work.
Further detailed guidance on the provision of asbestos training is set out in the Management of Exposure to Asbestos in Workplace Buildings and Structures: Approved Code of Practice.