The 10 questions most often asked about asbestos certification, training, identification, detection and cost.

1.        What is asbestos awareness training?

2.        How long does an asbestos certificate last?

3.        How often should asbestos awareness training be done?

4.        How much does asbestos awareness training cost?

5.        How do you identify asbestos?

6.        How do you detect asbestos?

7.        How much does it cost to have your house asbestos tested?

8.        How do I know if I have asbestos in my home?

9.        Does insurance cover asbestos?

10.      How much does it cost to test for asbestos in the UK?

We at Commodious frequently get asked, what is asbestos awareness training? how much does it cost? how often do I have to do it? How do I know if I have got asbestos in my house and how do I test for it? Along with the other questions listed above, we will attempt in this article to answer all of the above questions and give some useful links for further information. Let’s start with the first question;

What is asbestos awareness training?

The legislation that surrounds this topic are the “The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012’ these are designed to protect workers and occupants of non-domestic premises from exposure to Asbestos Containing Materials by imposing a duty on owners and managers to:

Find out whether the premises contains asbestos, and, if so, where it is and what condition it is in. If in doubt, materials must be presumed to contain asbestos;

Assess the risk; and make a plan to manage that risk and act on it.

Make the information about the location, condition and management of asbestos available to anyone working on the fabric of the building.

Furthermore Regulation 10 is specifically about training and it simply states Every employer must ensure that any employee employed by that employer is given adequate information, instruction and training where that employee is or is liable to be exposed to asbestos, or if that employee supervises such employees. Asbestos was  widely used in many UK products before all importation and production of asbestos products were banned outright in 2000. It's important to note, however, that 50% of buildings constructed before 1999 are suspected of containing asbestos in various forms so it is still probable that you may come across asbestos containing materials at some time or other. Asbestos awareness training (sometimes referred to as Cat. A asbestos training) is designed to satisfy the first 3 requirements of the regulations, those being that employees are aware of:

(i)the properties of asbestos and its effects on health, including its interaction with smoking,

(ii)the types of products or materials likely to contain asbestos,

(iii)the operations which could result in asbestos exposure and the importance of preventive controls to minimise exposure,

The full Regulation 10 is available here.

So, the answer to the question, what is asbestos awareness training? Is it must satisfy parts (i), (ii) and (iii) of regulation 10 of the The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, or as the HSE state on their web site;

Information, instruction and training for asbestos awareness is intended to give workers and supervisors the information they need to avoid work that may disturb asbestos during any normal work which could disturb the fabric of a building, or other item which might contain asbestos. It will not prepare workers, or self-employed contractors, to carry out work with asbestos-containing materials. If a worker is planning to carry out work that will disturb ACMs, further information, instruction and training will be needed.

Examples of those affected are listed below. There will be other occupations where asbestos may be disturbed in addition to those listed.:

  • General maintenance workers

  • Electricians

  • Plumbers

  • Joiners

  • Painters and decorators

  • Plasterers

  • Construction workers

  • Roofers

  • Shop fitters

  • Gas fitters

  • Heating and ventilation engineers

  • Demolition workers

  • Telecommunication engineers

  • Fire/burglar alarm installers

  • Computer and data installers

  • Architects

  • Building surveyors

Information, instruction and training about asbestos awareness should cover the following:

  • the properties of asbestos and its effects on health, including the increased risk of developing lung cancer for asbestos workers who smoke

  • the types, uses and likely occurrence of asbestos and asbestos materials in buildings and plant

  • the general procedures to deal with an emergency, eg an uncontrolled release of asbestos dust into the workplace

  • how to avoid the risk of exposure to asbestos

Online learning (often referred to as e–learning) is increasingly used as a method of providing asbestos awareness training. HSE recognises the use of e-learning as a viable delivery method, among others, for asbestos awareness training, provided it satisfies the requirements of Regulation 10 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and the supporting Approved Code of Practice L143 'Managing and working with asbestos'.

Although the regulations do not apply to domestic premises it is very important to note that where the asbestos regulations do not apply directly, a legal duty of care is still imposed under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Section 3 stipulates that an employer or self-employed person must ensure so far as is reasonably practicable that the conduct of their undertaking does not present a risk to the health and safety of people who are not their employees. This regulation applies to landlords of domestic premises and trades including builders, decorators, plumbers and electricians.

So, if you employ someone and carry out house renovations, although the property is domestic and exempt from the regulations and therefore does not require an asbestos report - you have a duty of care to your employee and therefore you do come under the regulations. This also applies if you are a sole trader, your duty of care applies to anybody that you may harm through your activities, such as disturbing asbestos during the course of your work in a domestic property.

Therefore anybody who works on a fabric of a building should have asbestos awareness training, but it is important to note that asbestos awareness training or Cat. A or sometimes called level 1, is only intended to help avoid carrying out work that will disturb asbestos or asbestos containing materials (ACM’s), it does not prepare people to carry out work with asbestos containing materials. If you have to work with asbestos there are two higher levels of information, instruction and training required.

Non-licensable work with asbestos including NNLW (Cat. B training)

Licensable work with asbestos. (Cat. C training)

So, how often should asbestos awareness training be done and how long does an asbestos certificate last?

Any reputable asbestos awareness training provider will have some form of knowledge assessment at the end of the course and providing this is passed some sort of certificate that shows the training has been completed and understood will be issued. The answer to the question how long does this certificate last and how often should the training be done are really one and the same question. Here’s what the HSE have to say about the subject:

Information instruction and training on asbestos awareness is merely intended to help workers avoid carrying out work that will disturb asbestos. There is no legal requirement to repeat an entire formal awareness refresher training course every 12 months. However some form of refresher should be given, as necessary, to help ensure knowledge of asbestos awareness is maintained.

Refresher awareness could be given as e-learning or as part of other health and safety updates, rather than through a formal training course. For example, an employer, manager or supervisor who has attended an awareness course and who is competent to do so, could deliver an update or safety talk to employees in house.

A realistic, commonsense approach to refreshing knowledge and skills, based on judgement of individual abilities and training needs is all that is usually required.

There is no need for employees who have received training for licensable or non-licensable work to do the lower level awareness refresher training.

So, the HSE are not insisting upon 12 monthly asbestos awareness refresher training or certificates BUT many organisations are insisting that asbestos awareness certificates are issued annually. For example this is an extract from the CHAS web site :

Frequency of Training

CHAS will seek evidence that there is an on-going process of training and development of professional experience.   As a minimum training courses covering Core Subjects will be refreshed every 3 years and asbestos awareness is generally refreshed annually. SMSTS / SSSTS and equivalents should be renewed every 5 years


CHAS is a member of SSIP which means that many other member organisations will take the same view, such as:

SMAS,

ConstructionLine

or Exor safecontractor and will probably insist upon asbestos awareness training being carried out annually.

It is our experience at Commodious that most local authorities, large construction companies and contractors are also insisting that training and certification is carried out annually. So, if you work for large construction or contractor companies that carry out local authority or government contracts you will find that asbestos awareness training will have to be carried out annually and a certificate issued to enable access to site.

A full list of the members of Safety Sytems in Procurement (SSIP) is available here:

So, for the majority of trades and construction people asbestos awareness training and certificates will need to be carried out annually which leads straight on to the next frequently asked question.

How much does asbestos awareness training cost?

The costs vary enormously from one training provider to another but as already stated the HSE endorse e-learning or online learning as an efficient, cost effective way of delivering asbestos awareness training, as they say on their web site;

Online learning (often referred to as e–learning) is increasingly used as a method of providing asbestos awareness training. HSE recognises the use of e-learning as a viable delivery method, among others, for asbestos awareness training, provided it satisfies the requirements of Regulation 10 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and the supporting Approved Code of Practice L143 'Managing and working with asbestos'.

We at Commodious provide online asbestos awareness training, we are members of the Independent Asbestos Training Providers (IATP) an association that is a listed organisation by the HSE, here is an extract from the HSE web site section. How to find a training provider?

Some of the training associations whose members provide training for working with asbestos are listed below. There are many other organisations that offer asbestos training. In providing links to the organisations listed below HSE is not endorsing the organisations, the content of their websites, or the products or services offered.

Our top price for the course is £10 + VAT maximum and can be purchased for far less in bundle deals (as little as £2.50 + VAT) or volume discounts, charity discounts and social enterprise member discounts, discounts are also given for returning customers carrying out annual refresher training. We think this is probably the best value of any reputable HSE listed online training provider. The certificates bear the IATP logo and are universally accepted, for more information or to purchase just click the link below.

If you have had asbestos awareness training you may become concerned about detecting and identifying asbestos. Perhaps in your own home or you may be a duty holder that owns or occupies commercial premises (such as shops, offices, industrial units etc) and you have responsibility for maintenance and repair activities and you have a duty to assess the presence and condition of any asbestos-containing materials. Whichever is the reason it leads onto the next two most frequently asked questions.

How do you identify asbestos? How do you detect asbestos?

It can be difficult to identify asbestos, as it is often mixed with other materials. The HSE asbestos image gallery shows a number of common materials that contain asbestos. The two screenshot images below are taken from our course and the information buttons show common places asbestos containing materials are found in domestic and industrial premises and may help you answer the question

How do I know if I have asbestos in my home?

Here is a screen shot and video from our course showing where asbestos may be found in an average home.

And here is a screen shot and video from our course of where you may find asbestos in industrial premises.

So, if you suspect you have got asbestos containing materials (ACM’s) - how do you go about detecting and testing for this. The best way to do this is to have an asbestos survey carried out this is an effective way to help you manage asbestos in your premises by providing accurate information about the location, amount and type of any asbestos-containing materials (ACMs).  The person responsible for maintenance of non -domestic premises must either arrange a survey if it is suspected there could be ACMs in your premises or, the duty-holder may instead choose to presume the worst case of widespread asbestos in the premises and would then need to take all appropriate full stringent precautions for any work that takes place. However, it is often less troublesome  and more proportionate to have an asbestos survey carried out so it is absolutely clear whether asbestos is present or not and what its condition is. You need to find out if you are responsible for maintenance and are the duty holder for the asbestos.

The asbestos survey, can help to provide enough information so that an asbestos register, a risk assessment and a management plan can then be prepared. The survey will usually involve sampling and analysis to determine the presence of asbestos so asbestos surveys should only be carried out by competent surveyors who can clearly demonstrate they have the necessary skills, experience and qualifications.

An asbestos survey will identify the location of any asbestos-containing materials in the building and the type of asbestos they contain and the condition of these materials.

Following a survey, the surveyor should produce a survey report which details the findings. This information can help you prepare an asbestos risk register

You should only use asbestos analysts who have been UKAS registered and the list of these is available here

I think I may have asbestos containing materials in my home, what should I do?

Here is a comprehensive answer and advice from the HSE;

Do not try to repair or remove any asbestos materials yourself if you have not had any training for non-licensed asbestos work. You can seek advice from an environmental health officer at your local authority/council (see the Directgov website).

If you are sure (or strongly suspect) that your home contains asbestos materials then it is often best to leave them where they are – especially if they are in good condition and unlikely to get damaged. You should check the condition of the materials from time to time to make sure they haven't been damaged or started to deteriorate.

Slightly damaged asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) can sometimes be repaired by sealing or enclosing them. However, you should only attempt to do this if you have had the necessary training. Any badly-damaged asbestos material that is likely to become further damaged should be removed if it cannot be protected. Some materials (sprayed asbestos coatings, asbestos lagging / insulation or asbestos insulating board) should only be removed by a contractor licensed by HSE. Your local environmental health officer can provide advice on this.

If you are planning any DIY home improvements, repairs or maintenance – and intend to bring in any additional builders, maintenance workers or contractors – you should inform them of any asbestos materials in your home before they start work. This will help reduce the risks of any ACMs being disturbed. HSE strongly encourages the use of trained professionals to repair or remove ACMs. If you choose to carry out DIY repairs or remove damaged asbestos materials yourself, make sure you wear the right protective equipment and follow safe working methods. For advice on doing this, see: Asbestos essentials task sheets.

In addition, please be aware that ACMs need to be legally disposed of as hazardous waste. This should not be mixed with normal household waste. You may be able to arrange to have it collected or there may be special facilities in your area you can use to dispose of it. Contact your local authority for information about asbestos and its disposal

So, the last three questions to answer are actually all linked.

How much does it cost to have your house tested for asbestos and how much does it cost for an asbestos test in the UK and does my insurance cover asbestos?

An Asbestos Refurbishment and Demolition Survey is carried out if you are planning substantial home improvements and there is a chance that it contains asbestos. The survey must locate and record the location or suspected materials containing asbestos and identify the type of asbestos present. It will also document the condition of the ACM and note the accessibility of any ACM’s

Samples will be sent to an accredited laboratory (UKAS registered) and then the report will detail whether asbestos removal or maintenance work needs to be done.

Asbestos removal costs vary and depend on the size of the property, where the property is located and the number of samples taken. A typical survey cost is around £250 and then any asbestos removal costs are on top of this:

A check of materials and taking samples costs from £50, to encapsulate material starts at £8 per square metre and this is embedding the asbestos material with resin so fibres cannot escape but to actually remove asbestos material is from £50 per square metre

A large area such as a garage can cost up to £2500 to remove all asbestos materials.

A typical price range for actual asbestos tests in the UK is:

1 asbestos sample £20

2-5  asbestos samples £15 each

6-10 asbestos samples £12 each

11-25 asbestos samples  £10 each

25+ asbestos samples  £8.50 each

So does insurance cover asbestos costs? Well it will always depend on the policy details, but in most cases insurance companies won’t cover for the removal of asbestos or testing and surveying. So in most cases, the price of asbestos removal is covered by the homeowner. But in cases where asbestos is damaged and becomes an increased health threat some insurance companies may consider paying the removal costs for this.





Well, that’s it the 10 most frequently asked questions about asbestos certification, training, detection, and costs answered to the best of our ability. Our asbestos awareness course does cover things in more detail, click for more details