One of the key aspects of health and safety that is often not thought of is the aim of the industry to improve and safeguard the long term health and people working in different industries. Since its prohibition in 1985, an estimated 90,000 people die each year of asbestos-related illnesses.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is the collective term used for a group of minerals that comprise of microscopic fibres. Asbestos has been used extensively throughout the world in insulation, roofing and flooring however the long term threat to the health and safety of those exposed to it were only fully realised in the 1970s. The threat of asbestos comes through the microfibers, which if inhaled, can cause extensive internal damage.

What health complications can it lead to?

Those who suffered high levels of exposure to asbestos included many tradespeople and construction workers. Some of the diseases that can be contracted from asbestos exposure include:

  • Asbestosis
  • Pleural Plaques
  • Asbestos-related lung cancer
  • Malignant mesothelioma

These are some of the more serious health complications that can arise from long term asbestos exposure. Many of the illnesses caused by asbestos will not be realised until up to 40 years after exposure.

What training is needed to work with different levels of asbestos-exposed environments?

Asbestos is a highly dangerous substance and unfortunately due to its heavy industrial use in the 20th century, many are employed to remove and deal with asbestos and asbestos-exposed environments. Currently, there are 3 levels of training that are needed to work with asbestos in the UK: Awareness, non-licensable work and licensable asbestos work.

Level 1: Awareness

Awareness is the most basic level of training needed to work with asbestos. Workers who would benefit from this training include plumbers, electricians and gasfitters.

Level 2: Non-licensable work, including non-licensed work

This level of training is slightly more detailed. It is essential if you are working or are planning on working directly with asbestos-containing materials. This training is important for those who are working on removing and containing asbestos.

Level 3: Licensable work with asbestos

The final level of clearance needed to work with asbestos is ‘licensable work’. This must be carried out by a licensed contractor. All three aspects and information from the previous degrees of training are needed in to perform this level of work.

Working in refurbishments and construction still presents a very real threat of asbestos exposure to many in the workforce today. To make sure you are safeguarding your employees make sure you keep your business up to date with the latest information on managing asbestos.

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