RICS Draft Guidance Note: Asbestos - legal requirements and best practice for property professionals and clients (4th edition)

RICS Asbestos 4th edition consultation draft

4.2.6 Training for people who may disturb the building fabric

In order for workers in the construction industry to have a better understanding of the risks from asbestos, there is a clear legal obligation for employers to give asbestos awareness training that is appropriate for the work they do.

Research has shown that although workers have a general awareness of what asbestos is, the extent of its use is not widely appreciated, nor is the fact that it is still present in millions of buildings in the UK. One of the recurring themes in research is that workers think asbestos was 'yesterday's problem', when quite clearly it still needs addressing today.

It is estimated that asbestos products are present in up to two million commercial premises in the UK - including hospitals, schools, universities, warehouses and offices - and around three million domestic and residential dwellings, from high-rise social housing to stately homes.

With an estimated two million workers in the building, construction and maintenance sector, a large number of people carry out work in buildings where asbestos is still present and the potential for accidental disturbance is high.

A survey of 500 construction workers by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health identified that while 59% had received asbestos awareness training, 15% had never been provided with awareness training. Furthermore, 32% had never checked an asbestos register, while almost 25% believed they had been exposed to asbestos.

Any workers in the building and allied trades who are more likely to incidentally or accidentally disturb asbestos are legally required to have asbestos awareness training. This is so that they can take measures to reduce risks from asbestos.

Anyone who plans to work with ACMs is legally required to have suitable training to do so, in addition to awareness training. The nature of this training will depend on whether they are undertaking licensed, notifiable non-licensed or non-licensed work. They also require specialist insurance, and knowledge of handling procedures and waste disposal.