UKATA, also known as the UK Asbestos Training Association, have set the UK standards for asbestos training since 2008. According to reports from the HSE, asbestos affects thousands of people each year, including the estimated 5000 construction workers that die from asbestos exposure.

UKATA recognised the urgency of finding a way to prevent these deaths, and as such focuses solely on giving workers the awareness they so crucially need to make sure these risks are minimised. Through the provision of training, resources and advice, they have built a community where being aware of asbestos and the correct precautions on site is the complete norm. By doing so, construction sites have transformed and continue to change for the better, ensuring that their workers have the knowledge and equipment to protect themselves.

What is asbestos, and why was it used?

Asbestos is a natural occurring fibre that was heavily used for construction before the year 2000. It can be found in walls, ceilings, insulation, floor tiles, and almost any form of fire proofing – and even your own toilet seat! It was known as a miracle material, as we had never quite found something so cheap and effective as a form of insulation. Asbestos was known for its fire resistance, acid resistance and flexibility, and could be mined and produced inexpensively. Typically, it was too good to be true.

There are three types of asbestos: chrysotile, amosite and crocidolite. Chrysotile was used for things such as fire blankets and water supplies. Amosite asbestos was highly absorbent, and was therefore used in materials to reduce condensation, as well as for acoustic insulation. Crocidolite was the deadliest of them all, and was best known for its bright blue colour and jagged appearance. This could be used to insulate steam engines, and for spray-on coatings in various parts of buildings.

Asbestos was widely used in construction all throughout the 1900s, but it quickly became apparent that the material was causing a health crisis within the construction industry. Early evidence showed that it caused lungs to become ‘stiff’ when breathed in, eventually scarring them to the point where they were unable to contract and expand properly, eventually leading to death. The process would be slow and painful, with some people unable to tell that they have been affected till many years later.  Unfortunately, there remains no cure or way to reverse these affects.

Asbestos is typically safe when not disturbed. Once irritated, however, it releases a storm of invisible but deathly microfibres that make their way into the deepest parts of the lungs. Due to its lack of visibility, it’s impossible to contain this material without someone who specialises in removing asbestos, and it is commonly disturbed due to a lack of adequate record-keeping and attentiveness.

Why SAMS works with UKATA

SAMS believes that construction workers deserve the right to be safe. Construction workers do an unbelievable amount of hard work each day, and should never have to go through the pain asbestos can deliver.

For the sake of just wearing the right equipment and making our construction workers aware of the dangers, lives will be saved. We believe that by joining forces with UKATA, we can succeed in our mission of reducing the amount of lives affected negatively by asbestos.

Each one of us can help by keeping people informed about the ongoing dangers of asbestos. If you are interested in learning more, our UKATA Asbestos Awareness course can be taken in just a few hours online for just £13.50 pp. To find out more, visit our UKATA Asbestos Awareness course page.