Are you breathing safely?

Craig Evans, general manager of UKATA
Craig Evans, general manager of UKATA

The UK Asbestos Training Association (UKATA) has highlighted the importance of Government guidelines surrounding Asbestos: The licensed contractors’ guide (HSG247) to ensure proper removal of asbestos.

One area of particular concern is people often not being aware of rules on wearing respirators, and thus significantly increasing the risks of breathing in deadly asbestos dust.

Craig Evans, general manager of UKATA, commented: “UKATA still hears a worrying number of cases where individuals tasked with the removal of asbestos have failed to take all the necessary steps to protect themselves in their line of work.

“Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) is a particular area of concern as all too often we are still seeing a laissez-faire attitude towards personal safety and poor awareness of where, when and how such life-saving equipment must be deployed.”

Chapter five of the licensed contractors guide covers the use of PPE and RPE and makes clear that RPE “plays a crucial part in the control regime”. The guide also makes clear that RPE is a last resort and not a substitute for the prevention of fibres being released in the first place.

While work on any type of asbestos can be dangerous, work with asbestos cement products, for example, is usually classed as non-licensed work and can be carried out by non-licensed workers, so long as they have received the appropriate training and the material can be handled without the asbestos breaking up.

In any event, licensed and non-licensed employees alike must have been fit tested and training in this area is also vital, as without good contact between the wearer’s skin and the face seal of the RPE, any protection it offers is seriously compromised.

As it would be unlikely that one type of mask would fit all faces, fit testing is essential and in all of this training, regular refresher courses can make all the difference.

UKATA members provide training on asbestos safety, delivering the highest standard of asbestos training in the UK.

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