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Ensure apprentices are asbestos aware, urges UKATA

03 March 2022

THE UK Asbestos Training Association (UKATA) is urging construction employers to ensure asbestos awareness training is provided to all apprentices.

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.

Craig Evans, chief operating officer of UKATA urged, “With the death toll from asbestos exposure over 5,000 per year, UKATA is calling on all employers of apprentices working in trades, to ensure asbestos awareness training is conducted as soon as possible.”

Apprentice electricians, plumbers, carpenters, joiners, 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. And the facts are startling:

  • Asbestos kills around 20 tradespeople in the UK every week, making it the single biggest cause of work-related deaths (www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/tradesperson.htm)
  • Electricians are almost 16 times more likely than the general population to develop the killer lung disease mesothelioma in their lifetime. (Occupational, domestic and environmental mesothelioma risks in the British population: a case-control study.)
  • Asbestos exposure kills 4 plumbers every week (Health & Safety Executive)
  • The UK has the highest death rate from mesothelioma in the world. The risk is highest in people who were exposed to asbestos before age 30. (Institute of Cancer Research)

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.

Craig explained: “It’s never too early to provide asbestos awareness training to your workforce. 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 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.”

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 Craig.

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.