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Asbestos Training - Just a Tick Box Exercise?

Aside from the legal requirement to have all workers who may disturb asbestos in the course of their work trained, we need to remember that it is estimated that 85,000 workers in the UK regularly disturb asbestos on a daily basis. It is essential that trades staff are appropriately trained to not work with asbestos.


Workers continue to disturb asbestos daily in the workplace, exposing 28 million people in the UK to risk, according to the HSE.

Although many organisations have trained their staff, the quality of this training varies significantly.

When is asbestos training ineffective?

The asbestos industry faces a significant challenge. The field of occupational hygiene has traditionally required individuals with strong academic backgrounds to apply scientific principles for dependable outcomes. Achieving "competence" has required extensive training and experience.

In 2002, the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations introduced a "Duty to Manage Asbestos," necessitating organisations to maintain asbestos registers and management plans from asbestos surveys, to be completed by 2004. This led to a surge in demand for asbestos surveyors.

This high demand has led to a dilution of industry knowledge, with many consultants unable to fully explain regulations or interpret their findings meaningfully.

Consequently, asbestos training quality has declined. While training is a common service offered by consultancies, many trainers lack the confidence or comprehensive knowledge necessary for effective instruction. Companies may also hesitate to invest in training, fearing staff turnover.

The HSE mandates that trainers be "competent," defined by relevant knowledge, skills, and experience. Yet, many health and safety professionals providing asbestos awareness training lack specific asbestos qualifications or experience, raising questions about their competence. It's not uncommon for trainers to rely on outdated presentations, unable to engage with the material or answer questions adequately.

What constitutes excellent asbestos training?

Effective training must first be engaging, using varied formats to cater to different learning styles—verbal, visual, demonstrative, etc.—to ensure retention. Research shows that only 20% of learned information is retained after 31 days without varied delivery methods.

The key to successful training lies in the trainer's ability to engage and inform. A knowledgeable, charismatic trainer can significantly enhance learning effectiveness. Trainers should base their material on verifiable sources, not hearsay or unreliable anecdotes, to avoid misinformation.

Selecting a qualified trainer involves:

  • Verifying their expertise, such as holding a Certificate of Competence in Asbestos (CoCA).
  • Assessing their industry experience to ensure they have practical knowledge.
  • Exercising caution with free or online training, which may not offer value.
  • Ensuring training content is current with legislation, guidelines, and practices.
  • Checking the trainer-to-participant ratio for effective learning.
  • Understanding the trainer's approach, whether they're educating managers, architects, or operatives, as each role requires tailored training.

Quality asbestos training is vital for compliance, safety, and project efficiency. For further assistance or inquiries, contact

Contact us now for training.

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