Free asbestos awareness training for tradesmen

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Tradesmen in the East Midlands can now take advantage of hundreds of hours of free asbestos awareness training in a bid to tackle ignorance about Britain’s biggest industrial killer.

During October and November 296.5 hours of face-to-face training have been pledged for tradesmen the East Midlands with an additional 5,570 hours of web-based training also available which includes courses in Romanian, Russian and Polish.

In 2008 – the latest year for which figures are available, 144 people died from asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma in the East Midlands and it is hoped that training will help prevent it claiming another generation of tradesmen.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in partnership with industry, set a poignant target of 4000 hours of face-to-face training to be donated during September – one hour for each life lost to asbestos-related illnesses in an average year. A target of a further 4000 hours of online training was also set.

But, thanks to an overwhelming response from training providers across Britain, the combined target of 8,000 hours has been smashed by more than 50 percent (see Notes to Editors).

Free training in the East Midlands is available at:

Aston on Trent, Derbyshire, on 4 November;

Chesterfield on 11 October and 22 November;

Lincoln on 11 October and 11 November;

Northampton on 17 and 24 October;

Nottingham on 9 November; and

Towcester on 18 October.

The free training is aimed at those most likely to disturb the asbestos fibres as they go about their work – tradesmen such as joiners, electricians and plumbers , around 20 of whom lose their lives to asbestos-related diseases every week.

The asbestos training pledge initiative is part of HSE’s Hidden Killer campaign to raise awareness that asbestos is not just an historical problem – around half a million non-domestic premises still contain it.

Said Rosi Edwards, HSE’s regional director: “This training will save lives by getting tradesmen to realise that their day to day job could – completely unintentionally – expose them to asbestos. The training will help them recognise where they may come across asbestos, how to recognise it and what to do about it and prevent this hidden killer from claiming another generation of British tradesmen.

“The response has been overwhelming and has completely exceeded our expectations. There’s been a real groundswell of support from a whole range of training providers.

“We expect demand for the courses to be high and urge tradesmen to go to www.hse.gov.uk and get signed up now. A few hours in a classroom or in front of a computer could add decades to someone’s lives. The courses literally could be a life saver.”

Joanne Gordon, co-ordinator at Derbyshire Asbestos Support Team, which helps victims of asbestos related diseases and their families across the East Midlands, added: “We are really pleased that training providers across the East Midlands have joined in with this initiative and pledged free training. Last quarter we helped 73 people diagnosed with asbestos related diseases, so it is so important that companies take up this training and protect their workforce from these terrible conditions.”

Independent Asbestos Training Providers (IATP), the UK Asbestos Training Association (UKATA) and the Asbestos Safety Health Environmental e-Learning Association (ASHeLA) have been inviting their members to pledge.

Those wanting to sign up to free training, classroom-based or web-based can see what has been pledged by following links on HSE’s website www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/training-pledge