The UK Asbestos Training Association (UKATA) is urging employers to deliver asbestos awareness training to all apprentices in an effort to halt the growing numbers of tradespeople contracting fatal asbestos-related diseases.
Research has shown that younger people, if routinely exposed to asbestos fibres over time, are at greater risk of developing deadly asbestos related diseases than older workers.
Providing apprentices with key information about asbestos at an early stage will enable them to challenge poor work practices and protect themselves, said UKATA, one of the UK’s leading authorities on asbestos training
Craig Evans, chief operating officer of UKATA, said: “With the death toll from occupational exposure reaching crisis levels in the UK, UKATA is calling on all employers of apprentices working in trades, to receive asbestos awareness training as soon as possible, whether that’s through a college or with their employer.”
Apprentice carpenters, joiners, electricians, plumbers, heating and ventilation engineers, painters and decorators are just some of the 1.3 million tradespeople that are at risk from exposure to the killer building material. Between 1991 and 2000, 598 carpenters and joiners died as a result of asbestos disease.
Despite the well-publicised health risks posed by asbestos, a 2017 survey conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) of 500 tradespeople showed that less than a third were aware of the correct ways to deal with and handle asbestos in the workplace.
“It’s never too early to deliver asbestos awareness training to your workforce,” said Evans. “The statistics show that the earlier in a person’s career they receive the appropriate training, then the better protected they are against developing asbestos related cancers in later life.
“A simple half day awareness course could prevent them from contracting a deadly disease and also ensure they don’t expose others to the dangers of asbestos.”
To ensure young people have access to asbestos awareness training before entering the workplace, UKATA is supporting the Learning Occupational Health by Experiencing Risks (LOcHER) project.
The LOcHER project idea originated within the HSE and aims to support colleges to help students develop valuable employment and life skills, so they feel equipped to lead change in their careers and the industries into which they progress.
For employers whose apprentices are yet to receive asbestos awareness training, UKATA advises that they access UKATA-approved asbestos awareness training, either with a local provider or online.
“Asbestos awareness training is low cost and readily available. I urge all employers to book their apprentices on these half-day courses and provide them with a safe foundation for a long and safe career within the construction industry,” added Evans.
UKATA approved asbestos awareness courses are available both online and in training centres throughout the UK. Alternatively, the training provider may deliver on site.
To find a UKATA approved asbestos training provider near you, visit www.ukata.org.uk or for free advice call the team on 01246 824437.