UWE Bristol delivers free training in asbestos awareness

Issue date: 23 January 2012

Nick Bell and Max Walker

UWE Bristol (the University of the West of England) has delivered over 4,000 hours of accredited training in asbestos awareness free to local firms and contractors.

The University has been praised for its commitment to safety by the Health and Safety Executive, and for going above and beyond the legal minimum training requirement.

Nick Bell, Construction Health and Safety Manager at UWE Bristol, explains, “As a client organisation, UWE Bristol requires all contractors working on UWE Bristol sites to hold proof of accredited training, in this case through UKATA (the United Kingdom Asbestos Training Association). However some contractors (usually from smaller firms) struggled to provide evidence of any asbestos awareness training, let alone training that met the core syllabus outlined in the ACOP.

“So we decided to take the initiative and engage third party providers to deliver free-of-charge training to all contractors working on UWE Bristol sites, following their mandatory safety induction. The training covers both the core syllabus and UWE-specific requirements such as the types of asbestos found on our sites, our emergency procedures and how to access the asbestos register. Since July 2009 we have delivered UKATA accredited asbestos awareness free-of-charge to over 1335 contractors and our face-to-face teaching time has just passed 4,000 hours.

“At UWE Bristol we set high standards for the contractors who work with us, and by delivering this training we are able to maintain those standards and give something back to the community. The 4,000 hours is a significant milestone, as it reflects the fact that around 4,000 people are dying each year from asbestos related diseases. This is a huge number and UWE Bristol is trying to do what it can to reduce the horrendous impact that this has on individuals and their families.”

Max Walker (Head of operations, HSE South West) says, “Asbestos is the single greatest cause of workplace deaths in the UK: asbestos fibre exposure is linked to a number of serious diseases, including cancer and scarring of the lungs. Exposure to asbestos is not a historical problem; it is still present in many of our buildings, including some half a million public buildings. It is therefore vital that trades people undertake training so that they know how to safely deal with asbestos when they come across it.

“In carrying out 4,000 hours of training, UWE Bristol has achieved an impressive milestone and I am pleased to be able to come to this training session to congratulate the University in person.”

Lee Gardiner of P&G Contractors praised the provision of the training at UWE Bristol. He said, “Your Asbestos course has been very beneficial for our employees. We recently had an incident on another site where we were working in a kitchen area, breaking up a concrete slab. Our foreman uncovered what he believed to be asbestos shuttering around concealed pipes beneath a concrete plinth. It was thanks to his training that he was immediately suspicious.

“The foreman dealt with the problem in accordance with guidance he had been taught. He stopped work, got the team out of the area and notified the client. The material was checked and it was proved to contain asbestos. The client then had it safely removed by licensed contractors. The foreman was praised for his actions and for reporting the incident. More importantly he protected himself, the other workers and anyone else who might have gone into that area.”


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