As an employee of a company the law protects you. The Health and Safety at work Act 1974 requires your employer to :
Your employer must provide you with a safe and healthy place of work, and manage your safety and welfare. Your employer must do whatever is ‘reasonably practicable’ to achieve this.
The Control of Asbestos regulations (CAR 2012) detail how this should be achieved and any Employer has a duty to protect you, and the general public from exposure to asbestos no excuses.
The law also makes it very clear that as an employee you have to
Take reasonable care for the health and safety of yourself and other people at work. This extends to co-operating to enable the employer to fulfil its legal duty.
If you are likely to disturb Asbestos as part of your job eg you carry out maintenance or work on buildings constructed before 2000, it is a requirement that you have asbestos awareness training. This is known as Category A training.
This site is not sufficient for this, and serves only to make you aware of your rights and responsibilities.
Asbestos awareness will make you aware of asbestos and its properties in more detail, will cover your responsibilities as an employee, where you may find asbestos and how to find out if there is Asbestos in a property, health risks associated with Asbestos and what to do if you think you may have disturbed asbestos.
If your employer requires you to work on asbestos, there are further requirements for training for different categories of asbestos materials.
Category B training is for lower risk materials or tasks. In addition to training there are requirements for plans of work, appropriate PPE and RPE(respiratory protection) and risk assessments. These are all detailed in CAR 2012.
Category C training is for high risk asbestos materials or tasks. As above there are other requirements, the main one being that you would have to be employed directly by a licensed asbestos removal contractor or an agency who hold a license. You cannot be self employed.
Any training should be repeated regularly this is usually 12 months.
If you are working on asbestos you may also need to have medical checks.
RPE & PPE
Dust masks and respirators are your last level of protection when working on or near Asbestos. We’ve said this for a number of reasons. Firstly the best way to avoid exposure to asbestos fibres is to not disturb it.
Secondly, other methods of stopping asbestos fibres from becoming airborne should be used. This can involve wetting of asbestos, air extraction systems and Hazardous vacuum cleaners (Class-H). A normal HEPA vacuum cleaner will not stop asbestos fibres. This information is covered in CAR 2012.
If you are using a mask it should be an FFP3 mask and you should have been tested to ensure it fits you and works correctly. You will have a certificate. Incorrectly fitted RPE will not protect you.