Acting chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) Kevin Wellman has warned heating engineers that they need to know their responsibilities in dealing with asbestos.
The latest figures from 2008 show 2,249 deaths from mesothelioma, one of the types of lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. In total, asbestos exposure is believed to have caused about 4000 deaths that year and the numbers are predicted to rise until 2016.
Mr Wellman said: 'Plumbers and heating engineers are more likely than most to come across asbestos while they're working. The figures are bad enough - what we don't want is a new occurrence or risk of asbestos related illness, simply due to people not understanding what to do.'
For non-domestic premises there is a duty, normally held by whoever manages the building, to keep records of the location of all possible asbestos and its condition. They must also have a plan of how to manage the risk and act on it.
There are three levels of training which entitle workers to deal with different levels of asbestos risk. These are, asbestos awareness training, non-licensed and licensed.
• Awareness training is suitable for anyone likely to come across asbestos in the course of their work. It teaches you to recognise the risk and protect yourself. It does not allow you to carry out any work on asbestos.
• Non-licensed is used in addition to awareness training. It teaches you to drill holes in asbestos containing materials, lay cables and perform other lower risk asbestos work in safety.
• Licensed training will qualify you for all kinds of asbestos work and is useful for supervisors.
Mr Wellman added: 'It's important for employers to be aware of the legal requirements and ensure they only take on individuals with adequate training. For non-domestic premises you must also make sure you have sight of the asbestos risk report before commencing any project.'
More information about working safely with asbestos can be found on the CIPHE website here
Alternatively, visit the HSE website: www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/training.htm