Raising awareness of the risks of exposure to asbestos and on how employees can protect themselves and others plays a key role in helping to reduce the incidence of asbestos related diseases. HSE values the contribution that all training providers and training associations make in ensuring that workers receive adequate information, instruction and training to enable them to carry out their work without risk to themselves or others.
However, there does seem to be some confusion in the minds of training providers, employers, employees, contractors and others within the industry about the specific legal requirements of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR 2012) which relate to the provision of training. HSE has recently received a number of queries, questions and complaints relating to this, and by way of example, I would draw your attention to the recent case considered by the Myth Busters Challenge Panel here:
HSE will be updating and making changes to the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) on asbestos to take account of CAR 2012 and also to address these concerns by clarifying the legal position on information, instruction and training. You will, of course, be given the opportunity to comment on the draft ACOP when it is circulated for consultation later this year. However, as the final version of the revised ACOP will not be published until the end of the year, HSE will be making some interim changes to its webpage on asbestos training in the near future to clarify the position on the following issues:
HSE approval of training providers/organisations
HSE DOES NOT approve, endorse or accredit training courses or any particular training providers or training associations. Training providers and training association should not suggest otherwise in their advertising and other material.
A list of links to websites of training organisations is provided on the HSE website as a service to those seeking details of training providers. However, the website makes clear that HSE does not endorse the websites or the products or services offered, and also makes clear that there are other organisations available that also offer training services.
Legal Status of Training Certificates
Although many training organisations provide certificates at the end of training courses – and they can be a useful demonstration that training has been received – there is NO legal requirement under CAR 2012 for training certificates to be provided, kept or presented before a contractor can begin work with asbestos. HSE has been made aware of a number of cases where clients or site managers appear to be under the impression that workers must be in possession of training certificates issued by specific training providers or training associations before they can be allowed access to work sites, particularly in relation to asbestos awareness. To be clear – this is NOT a legal requirement under CAR 2012.
As described in the Approved Code of Practice, asbestos awareness does NOT in itself provide workers with sufficient information, instruction and training to work with asbestos-containing materials. Additional information, instruction and training will be required depending on the nature of work to be undertaken. The HSE website already includes the following statement: “Important – Awareness training is not enough if you plan to carry out any work with asbestos-containing materials” We will be revising the wording to clarify this further.
Information, instruction and training given to employees must be refreshed at regular intervals. The current ACOP states that this should be provided at least once a year and it should be appropriate to the type of work being carried out and address the needs of the employee as identified in a training needs analysis. It should not just be a repeat of the original training and, depending on specific individual needs, could be done as a structured training session or as part of a toolbox talk.
This is particularly the case for asbestos awareness. Paragraph 147 of the current ACOP specifically states that “Those persons who require only awareness training could have refresher training as part of other health and safety updates” and attendance on an externally run refresher training course is, therefore, not mandatory.