Construction workers face health and environmental hazards on a day-to-day basis. In larger cities like Seattle, there are probably numerous hazardous-waste removal sites that need to be handled delicately. Properties that contain asbestos, lead-based paint, and radioactive waste require skilled construction laborers who know how to decontaminate the area and dispose of the waste accordingly.
While asbestos is no longer commercially used, it can still be found in older buildings and homes. This mineral fiber is known to cause scarring of the lungs and even lung cancer. Employers who handle construction projects of this nature always check whether their employees have successfully passed an asbestos training course.
Contractors who possess this kind of knowledge will, in turn, help create and maintain a safe work environment. The question is — does all construction work require the same level of expertise? If not, how does one determine which level of information and training is necessary?
The answer is pretty straightforward — choose the right program that will fit best into what your current position requires. The appropriate training will help you recognize materials that contain asbestos, and you will find out how to act to protect yourself and your colleagues.
If you want to know the ins and outs of an asbestos course, continue reading to learn some of the basics.
What Is Asbestos Abatement?
Asbestos abatement is a highly complex process that calls for professionals who have successfully completed asbestos training. Although asbestos production has been illegal in the US for over 40 years, construction workers in larger places, like those in Seattle, may still come across this dangerous substance. The process of its removal or treatment is also known as asbestos abatement.
When intact, asbestos can often be left alone with minimal risk of exposure. However, only those workers with proper training will be able to determine if that is the case. On the other hand, if its removal is required, a trained contractor will have a plan in place. They will clear the area and then remove the material using special tools.
Levels of Information and Training
There are three basic scenarios when it comes to asbestos, and they are all based on the amount of actual interaction construction workers have with this volatile material. The completion of the selected course, along with skill consolidation and on-the-job practice,
will make you competent to handle all potential scenarios.
Asbestos Awareness Training
This type of training is meant for every employee who can potentially be exposed to asbestos. It aims to provide workers and their supervisors with the information they will need in case they have to complete tasks that can cause possible disturbance of ACM. Keep in mind that asbestos awareness training will not prepare you to actually work with materials that may contain it. This will require some additional training as well.
Topics covered in the course can be related to the actual properties of the material and the health hazard it poses, the types and uses asbestos had in the building industry, and the overall course of action if there is ever an uncontrolled release of asbestos.
Occupations that may require this type of training are:
- Custodial and maintenance staff
- Painters, plasterers, and decorators
- Shop and gas fitters
- Heating and ventilation engineers
- Demolition workers
- Construction workers
Non-Licensable Work and Notifiable Non-Licensed Work
Life is unpredictable and unprecedented situations happen all of the time. So what should one do if they happen to have no license, but they have to disturb a surface covered in this material? This is where non-licensable work comes into play.
Occasionally, construction workers may come in contact with asbestos when drilling holes, when removing tiles, decorative coatings, or insulation boards, or when working on any other materials that may potentially contain asbestos.
If this is the case, we are speaking of a high-risk situation that mandates safe work practices and control measures. The workers have to be familiar with the protective equipment, emergency procedures, appropriate ways to handle the waste, and possible legal ramifications. This can only be accomplished if their previous asbestos training was both detailed and well-structured.
If you are a professional who works with asbestos-containing materials regularly, you will need to pass the required training with flying colors to be able to obtain the necessary license.
Only those activities that imply prolonged exposure to asbestos will make you eligible to apply for one. The process itself consists of several stages — application, assessment, and decision. Those who procure a license are the only ones allowed to carry out licensable work.