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January 30, 2012

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Well done – University applauded for free asbestos training provision

A university has been praised by the HSE for its commitment to safety by providing free training over and above the legal minimum requirement.

UWE Bristol (the University of the West of England) has delivered more than 4000 hours of accredited training in asbestos awareness free to local firms and contractors – an “impressive milestone”, according to the regulator’s head of operations for the South West, Max Walker.

The university’s construction health and safety manager, Nick Bell (left, in the picture), explained: “As a client organisation, UWE Bristol requires all contractors working on its sites to hold proof of accredited training – in this case through UKATA (the United Kingdom Asbestos Training Association). However, some contractors, usually from smaller firms, struggled to provide evidence of any asbestos awareness training, let alone training that met the core syllabus outlined in the ACoP.

“So, we decided to take the initiative and engage third-party providers to deliver free-of-charge training to all contractors working on UWE Bristol sites, following their mandatory safety induction. The training covers both the core syllabus and UWE-specific requirements, such as the types of asbestos found on our sites, our emergency procedures, and how to access the asbestos register.

“Since July 2009, we have delivered UKATA-accredited asbestos awareness free-of-charge to more than 1335 contractors, and our face-to-face teaching time has just passed 4000 hours.”

Max Walker added: “Asbestos is the single greatest cause of workplace deaths in the UK: asbestos fibre exposure is linked to a number of serious diseases, including cancer and scarring of the lungs. Exposure to asbestos is not a historical problem; it is still present in many of our buildings, including some half a million public buildings. It is therefore vital that trades people undertake training so that they know how to safely deal with asbestos when they come across it.

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