Although it has not been used in building and construction for over 30 years, asbestos can still be found widely in the Australian community. Its popularity led to it being extensively used throughout the 20th century, with a complete ban only coming into effect domestically in 2003.
The prevalence of asbestos means that many houses may still contain asbestos sheeting, roofing and floor products which, when damaged, can release dangerous fibres into the air. Exposure to asbestos fibres significantly increases a person’s risk of contracting cancer as well as other lung and heart diseases, including mesothelioma.
For those working in a variety of industries that involve working on sites that were built prior to the complete asbestos ban, being able to identify, safely work with or completely remove asbestos are vitally important skills.
The range of asbestos-related safety training courses is very broad. Just as there are many ways people can find themselves working with materials that may contain asbestos, there are various courses that exist to provide the skills workers need to do so safely.
But which course is right for you? Well, depending on what work you need to do, there are three main options that you will be looking at. All of which are nationally accredited, meaning any training you do in one state will be recognised by another.
This is the most basic level of asbestos safety training. It teaches workers how to identify areas of a building or worksite where asbestos contamination is likely to exist.
Workers who undertake this training will also learn the correct procedures for reporting likely asbestos contamination, as well as the precautions that should be taken to protect themselves and others from exposure.
10675NAT Course in Asbestos Awareness does not give you the skills to handle, work with or remove asbestos at a work site or to undertake any work in an area where asbestos contamination has been found.
The course in working safely with asbestos containing materials builds on the knowledge gained in the asbestos awareness course.
This course provides workers with the skills needed to safely undertake minor works to an area that is made from asbestos contaminated material, such as drilling into a non-friable asbestos sheet.
10852NAT Course in Working Safely with Asbestos Containing Materials teaches workers how to prepare a site before work is undertaken, how to correctly select and wear relevant personal protective equipment (PPE). It also teaches safe drilling and cutting techniques to use and how to decontaminate the site, yourself and the tools used at the conclusion of work.
Prospective students should note that undertaking this course requires the completion of 10675NAT course in Asbestos Awareness first.
For workers that may find themselves needing to undertake major works in contaminated areas or remove amounts of asbestos contaminated material, there is the remove non-friable asbestos course.
Being able to safely remove asbestos from a building or worksite assists in keeping workers and the community at reduced risk of exposure to airborne fibres.
The course builds on both the previous 10675NAT and 10852NAT courses, introducing processes and procedures for isolating the work site and carrying out the removal of asbestos. Workers also learn about decontaminating the site, as well as themselves, plus the forms and documentation needed to be completed during asbestos removal to meet regulatory requirements.
For those that work in Canberra/the ACT, it needs to be pointed out that both 10675NAT Course in Asbestos Awareness and 10852NAT Course in Working Safely with Asbestos Containing Materials are mandatory competencies to hold for people working within certain trades and industries, who have not completed more advanced asbestos removal courses.
This applies whether you live in the area, live in NSW, or if your business is registered in New South Wales or elsewhere. Every worker in the prescribed trades (available on the WorkSafe ACT website) are required to hold both competencies prior to commencing any work. Failure to do so can attract severe penalties under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (ACT).
To ensure you are meeting your duty of care under the Act or the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (C’wlth), you should always seek professional advice.
Working your way through the myriad training courses out there can be challenging, and the course that best meets your needs might not be immediately obvious.
To make sure you are getting the training that is going to keep you as safe as possible, we recommend you speak to an expert.
The training team at Height Safety Engineers (RTO 91227) is always happy to answer any questions you might have about which training course is best suited to your situation, existing skill level and needs. Get in touch by calling 1300 884 978 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to start your journey towards improved safety at work.