NTTL campaign inspires roofers’ asbestos course

A new course, inspired by IOSH’s No Time to Lose campaign, aims to educate roofers on the dangers of exposure to asbestos.

The National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) has worked with training firm Gully Howard Technical and IOSH to develop the new course, called Roofing Industry: Asbestos Awareness.

Research carried out in 2016 revealed that two in five construction workers do not check for an asbestos register before commencing site work. With around 1.5 million site-based construction staff employed in the UK – of which almost 48,000 are roofers – this amounts to over 580,000 workers who are at risk from avoidable asbestos exposure.

Meanwhile at a contractors’ event in November, co-hosted by Gully Howard Training Manager Kirsty Phillips and IOSH Vice-President Louise Hosking, it emerged that only a very small number of roofers were confidently able to identify where asbestos-containing materials might be found on an image of a school building. This was a clear indication that there is still a significant training gap that needs to be bridged to enable construction workers to do their jobs safely.

Discussions about the course had begun at the launch of the asbestos phase of the NTTL campaign in London last April.

The online course is low-cost and takes about an hour. Materials are being translated into Polish and Lithuanian, with other languages to follow.

IOSH President Professor Vincent Ho said: “Asbestos is a killer. Many thousands of people die every year from past exposure to asbestos at work. This is unacceptable. No one should have their lives cut short by any work activities.

“Employers must do all they can to prevent workers from being exposed to asbestos, but it is equally important that employees themselves are aware of the dangers. They should be aware of why they must avoid exposure to asbestos and also know what to do if they do come across it.

“This new course for roofing contractors, who are among the most at-risk group, can go some way to achieving this, which is why IOSH supports it.”

For more on the course, visit the Gully Howard Technical website.