ASEA launches new asbestos awareness training course aimed at the utilities sector

The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency is Australia’s leading peak body when it comes to all matters regarding asbestos management and safety. Established to provide a national focus on asbestos issues in both the workplace and in homes across Australia, their primary objective is to ensure asbestos issues receive attention and focus from government.

They have recently outlined a new course targeting workers in the utilities sector with a focus on the electricity and telecommunications industries.

The course titled Recognising and Responding to Asbestos Risk in the Utilities sector was launched in October 2017, and covers asbestos awareness of the various health and safety regulations in the Australian jurisdictions.

During the 2013–14 year, the ASEA began work on a project to improve asbestos training in the utilities sector, which came out of a taskforce review process following a number of incidences of inappropriate handling and the removal of asbestos-containing materials during the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN), which is a Commonwealth funded project. In recent months, there has also been a serious incident of asbestos exposure after electricians found asbestos at the Sydney Opera House, which is undergoing a major renovation.

The aim of the steering committee was to produce a model of best-practice training for the utilities sector to strengthen asbestos management practices and reduce current risks to workers and members of the public from being exposed to asbestos fibres. The project also has a secondary benefit says the ASEA which will be the raising of awareness within the utilities sector about the risks associated by asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) and the safe work methods of reducing that risk.

Research and work carried out by the stakeholder committee and technical advisory group, resulted in the ASEA releasing the Strengthening Asbestos-Related Training Materials in the Utilities Sector issues paper in June 2015, which outlined areas where improvements to asbestos-related training could be made in the utilities sector and would form the essential training requirements for those undertaking skill requirements for asbestos removal and identification.

Those concepts, with sufficient support from stakeholders has been incorporated into a training programme for use by organisations in the utilities sector, and as part of a separate project that was undertaken in 2015–16.

In the second half of 2014–15, the ASEA commenced a project to identify and promote a range of organisations and individual’s currently demonstrating best practice across a variety of areas in asbestos management.

The goal of the project says the ASEA was to highlight examples of best-practice asbestos management across Australia, and promote those examples to the wider community and their industry contemporaries while encouraging them to employ similar innovative ideas or practices that lead to safer handling and management of ACMs.

What the ASEA found was there is a significant amount of knowledge within the industry and the wider community about the dangers of exposure to asbestos that is translating into a strong commitment towards workplace health and safety for the whole of organisation from the top to the bottom.

The ASEA engaged consultants to develop a definition of best practice relating to asbestos management and identify organisations that would be considered to exemplify that best practice in various areas of asbestos management.

During 2016, the stakeholder group met regularly to develop and revise the units of competency with the final validation of the course ready for roll out in October 2017.

The ASEA says that persons who complete this course satisfactorily will be able to recognise situations and locations where there might be asbestos hazard and respond in a manner appropriate to the situation and their job role. However, the ASEA say this course does not include the competencies of working with or near asbestos or asbestos containing materials (ACMs).

The course is outlined to provide knowledge and vocational education as follows:

  • Recognise possible asbestos hazards and the appropriate controls.
  • Describe the hazards of working with or near ACM’s.
  • Identify possible events or circumstances that may increase asbestos risk.
  • Describe the possible health impacts of exposure to asbestos fibres and identify different groups of individuals at risk.
  • Comply with relevant work health and safety regulations.

The course aims to provide the necessary skills required to recognise asbestos hazards and act accordingly to minimise risk. The key elements of the course are as follows:

  • Be able to describe the hazards when working with or near asbestos containing materials (ACMs).
  • Identify possible events or circumstances that may increase asbestos risk.
  • Describe the possible diseases resulting from exposure to asbestos/ACMs.
  • Locate possible corridors or paths where asbestos debris or fibres might travel and settle.
  • Apply the precautionary principle with regard to possible asbestos/ACM’s in the workplace.
  • Speak to appropriate persons if asbestos is suspected.
  • Apply asbestos hazard control using the hierarchy of control in workplace situations.
  • Work in a manner consistent with the asbestos regulatory framework.
  • Practice individual rights and responsibilities relevant to own job.
  • Identify documentation relevant to working with or near asbestos or ACM’s.

AlertForce is a recognised RTO and offers Class A, Class B, Supervisor and Assessor asbestos removal courses in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. Check our website for other states and territories. For more information visit: https://alertforce.com.au/ohs-training-courses/asbestos-awareness/