The Impact of COVID-19 on Asbestos Awareness Training

Wed 13/01/2021 - 17:25

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact every aspect of our lives, including the ways in which we enhance our Continuing Professional Development (CPD). One significant impact that COVID-19 has had on learning and development is the number of people signing up to undertake or refresh their Asbestos Awareness training, with course uptake experiencing considerably lower numbers than usual.  

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While the risk posed by degradation of asbestos-containing materials may have increased due to less maintenance being undertaken in buildings over the course of the national and regional lockdowns, the risk of actual human exposure may have subsequently decreased as a result of lower occupancy. Therefore, once these properties begin to return to normal levels of occupancy the risk of exposure potentially increases.

With this in mind, it is more vital than ever for those whose line of work means they may come into contact with asbestos materials to competently identify and manage the level of associated risk, all while remaining up-to-date with health and safety guidance and current legislation.

Why is the uptake in Asbestos Awareness training experiencing a decline?

Since the reopening of construction sites in May 2020 after the first national lockdown, the number of workers undertaking Asbestos Awareness training has remained well below average and is currently at its lowest rate in five years. This rate has also been impacted by those operating in other sectors that require Asbestos Awareness training who have now switched to working from home on a permanent basis. To put this into perspective, an average of 18,000 workers per month completed asbestos training pre-pandemic, whereas from March to August 2020, an average of only 6,000 workers per month undertook the training (a decrease of more than 66%). For this reason, UKATA is calling for providers across the UK to stress the importance of keeping up-to-date with Asbestos Awareness training to employees.  

The HSE recommends that some form of refresher course is undertaken to ensure that up-to-date knowledge of asbestos awareness is maintained. This is usually every 12 months, but frequency could depend on the level of potential exposure. However, many organisations are continuing to make up for time lost over the initial lockdown, and have therefore taken their eyes off the ball when it comes to ensuring that their staff have up-to-date Asbestos Awareness training.

Why is it important for employees to ensure their Asbestos Awareness training remains up-to-date during the pandemic?

Regulation 10 of The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 requires every employer to ensure that adequate information, instruction and training is given to their employees who are or who are liable to be exposed to asbestos, or who supervise such employees. This is not only to remain compliant with health and safety legislation and their duty of care, but also to protect the lives of employees and the general public. By regularly undertaking Asbestos Awareness training, delegates will be equipped with the information required to help them to recognise the properties of asbestos, where it is/has been used in buildings, when it may pose a risk to health and how to respond accordingly in the event of exposure or disturbance.

How can SOCOTEC help?

SOCOTEC’s Asbestos team can deliver face-to-face Asbestos Awareness courses in line with social distancing guidelines, as well as offering virtual classrooms via Microsoft Teams that can be tailored to your business’ individual requirements. Available via the online Shop, SOCOTEC offers the UKATA Asbestos Awareness e-learning course and refresher training to ensure that professionals are fully equipped to identify and manage asbestos exposure. In response to client feedback, the content within the Asbestos Awareness online course has recently been updated, with additional factual and visual information implemented to improve the user’s overall learning experience.

Any delegates that purchase the UKATA Asbestos Awareness e-learning course before the end of January 2021 can take advantage of a £10 discount, with the training available for £15. Please note that UKATA Asbestos Awareness course and refresher training is also available as a half-day classroom-based course – click here to find out more.

For further information on SOCOTEC’s range of training courses, click here or get in touch with a member of our Health & Safety Consultancy. Alternatively, if you would like to find out how SOCOTEC can support your business with its asbestos management requirements, click here.

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