Are tradespeople legally required to take a course in asbestos awareness?

Training participant reviewing course material.

Asbestos is one of the most insidious and dangerous substances you can come across. When the loose fibres are inhaled, it can lead to a range of lung diseases including mesothelioma, a deadly and incurable cancer.

Knowing how to identify areas where asbestos contamination is likely to be found is a skill every tradesperson should have from the start of their career.

There are a range of nationally accredited courses available that cover awareness, safely working with, as well as the removal of asbestos and asbestos containing material.

In this blog post, we take an in-depth look at the legislative requirements regarding the 10675NAT Course in Asbestos Awareness as well as what this course covers and the benefits of completing it.

It is important to note that 10675NAT Course in Asbestos Awareness is currently the only nationally accredited course in asbestos awareness in Australia.

To begin with – is this course a legal requirement for workers? 

Completion of the specific, nationally accredited 10675NAT Course in Asbestos Awareness is not currently a legal requirement for tradespeople in Australia, with the notable exception of construction workers operating in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). So if someone is going to perform construction work in the ACT they must complete 10675NAT Course in Asbestos Awareness before entering the work site. 

Although the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 places a legal obligation on employers and persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) to ensure workers and contractors engaged by them are trained in asbestos awareness, there is no current legal requirement to complete this specific, nationally accredited course in most states.

Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their employees at all times. This includes protecting workers against the dangers of asbestos. The Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 states:

“The person conducting a business or undertaking must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that exposure of a person at the workplace to airborne asbestos is eliminated.”

The Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 also places additional legal obligations on employers and PCBUs regarding asbestos awareness training, stating:

“[A] person conducting a business or undertaking must ensure that workers engaged by the person, whom the person reasonably believes may be involved in asbestos removal work or in the carrying out of asbestos-related work, are trained in the identification and safe handling of, and suitable control measures for, asbestos and asbestos containing materials.” 

As a result of these regulations, many employers decide to proactively enrol their employees in this nationally accredited course regardless.

Completion of this course assists the company in fully meeting its obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act and Regulations. It also guarantees the worker will be qualified to work in the ACT as well as other states if and when completion of this course becomes mandatory in other parts of Australia.

The more workers who can identify and be aware of asbestos containing materials, the less risk there is of it being unwittingly damaged or made dangerous during day to day operations.

What does the 10675NAT Course in Asbestos Awareness cover?

Simply put, the 10675NAT Course in Asbestos Awareness is an introductory course that provides students with the skills required to identify asbestos and report asbestos contamination. Participants in the course will also gain an understanding of the health risks associated with asbestos and what steps need to be taken if asbestos is found at a work site. 

Here is a brief overview of what the course covers:

  • What is and what isn’t asbestos.
  • The different types of asbestos.
  • How to recognise and identify ACMs, even if the materials have been painted over or hidden.
  • What to do if you find asbestos or suspect that you have found asbestos.
  • General duty of care around asbestos.
  • The importance of understanding and updating an asbestos register.
  • Reporting procedures.
  • The health effects of exposure to asbestos.
  • Relevant legislation applying to asbestos.

Who should complete this course?

The course is suitable for all workers who the PCBU (a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking, e.g. an employer) reasonably believes will work in an area that may be contaminated by asbestos or asbestos containing material. The training is applicable not only to supervisors but to everyone from entry level to senior management. 

A broad range of tradespeople and workers should complete this course including builders, cleaners, architects, plumbers, labourers, landscapers, engineers, fencers, glaziers, locksmiths, professional handymen, construction workers, air-conditioning technicians, plumbers, electricians and anyone else who may come into contact with asbestos containing materials.

Awareness vs removal of asbestos

Completion of the 10675NAT Course in Asbestos Awareness does not allow someone to physically handle asbestos in any way or to work in an area where there is exposed asbestos.

Workers carrying out asbestos removal work for class A (friable) or class B (non-friable) asbestos must hold a separate certificate for the unit of competency for the type of asbestos removal work being carried out.

There is also another course that employees can complete which is considered to “bridge the gap” between asbestos awareness and asbestos removal training. The 10852NAT Course in Working Safely with Asbestos Containing Materials teaches students personal protective equipment requirements, safe drilling and cutting techniques as well as decontamination processes. 

As the 10675NAT Course in Asbestos Awareness is a prerequisite for the 10852NAT Course in Working Safely with Asbestos Containing Materials, many training providers offer students the option to combine these two courses into the one study package, including Height Safety Engineers.

The benefits of completing this course 

For employees:

  • You will be pre-qualified to perform work in the ACT.
  • You will learn vital skills required to protect yourself, and your co-workers, against the dangers of asbestos exposure.
  • You will increase your skill set which will make you more eligible for certain jobs and projects. 

For employers:

  • Your team will be pre-qualified to perform work in the ACT.
  • You will demonstrate to potential clients that your team has the knowledge and expertise required to identify asbestos.
  • You will demonstrate to your employees that you take their safety seriously because you are investing in important training.
  • You will have taken demonstrable steps to protect the health and safety of your employees which will help avoid any potential workplace incidents and resulting claims or investigations. 

Do you still have any doubts or concerns regarding the personal safety of your team or yourself?

If you still have any questions regarding the requirement to provide adequate information, instruction and training regarding asbestos awareness for any of your team, then please feel free to chat with one of our experts.

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