The Most Commonly Asked Questions About Asbestos Training

Asbestos was one of the most popular construction materials for a time, used in making roofing products, sealants, and insulation. It was also a well-known fire retardant and was even used in manufacturing fireproof textiles.

However, it was soon discovered that asbestos was linked to a lot of health problems, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma (a malignant tumor in the heart, lungs, or stomach). This resulted in various asbestos regulations, particularly with regards to jobs that involve abatement and removal.

Simply put, if your job requires you to work anywhere near or around asbestos, you’re going to need asbestos training.

What Training Is Required for Asbestos?

The kind of asbestos training programme and certification you need depends on the work you want or need to do. The three most common asbestos courses are the following:

1) Class B Asbestos Removal

This is a training course that assesses against NZQA unit standard 29765. Class B or non-friable asbestos is considered the safer kind of asbestos. As long as the asbestos-containing material (ACM) is well-maintained and undisturbed, there’s a low risk for the asbestos fibres to spread.

Nevertheless, professional removal is required in areas over 10 square metres. The contractors are required to have completed the corresponding course. There should also be a licenced asbestos removal supervisor at the site.

Class B asbestos removal courses cover topics such as safe practices for proper removal and disposal of non-friable asbestos, as well as decontamination, clean-up, and documentation.

2) Class A Asbestos Removal

Class A asbestos removal training courses assess against NZQA unit standard 29766. Due to the more dangerous nature of Class A or friable asbestos, appropriate training is necessary to minimise the risk of dislodging and releasing the fibres into the air.

Similar to Class B asbestos, there should also be a licenced asbestos removal supervisor on-site when Class A asbestos is being removed. Unlike Class B, however, there should be a supervisor regardless of the size of the space.

Upon completing a Class A asbestos removal course, the participant is expected to be able to identify, isolate, remove, and dispose of the material safely. They should also be able to clean-up and decontaminate the removal site and provide documentation that complies with New Zealand regulatory requirements.

3) Supervision of Asbestos Removal

An asbestos supervisor course assesses against NZQA unit standard 29767. The presence of a supervisor is required in any Class A asbestos removal work, as well as in Class B asbestos removal conducted by more than one person.

Aside from the NZQA unit standard 29767 certification, an asbestos removal supervisor must also have both a Class A and a Class B licence. They should also have relevant industry experience: 3 years for Class A and 1 year for Class B.

The most crucial part of an asbestos removal supervisor’s job is to oversee the removal and decontamination process at the site. They work with an assessor and the removal specialist to ensure that everything is properly tested, documented, and compliant with existing laws and regulations.

How Often Does Asbestos Training Need To Be Reviewed?

There are no legal requirements in New Zealand that require repeat asbestos training after a specified period. However, experts recommend that those who have a licence take a refresher course every 2 years to keep the knowledge fresh. Course reviews are also important if there are any changes in rules and regulations surrounding asbestos removal.

How Many Different Types Of Training Are There For Asbestos?

As previously mentioned, there are three common asbestos training programs: Class B removal for NZQA unit standard 29765, Class A removal for NZQA unit standard 29766, and supervision of asbestos removal for NZQA unit standard 29767.

There are also training programmes for asbestos assessors, whose job is to monitor, plan, and prepare for asbestos removal through data collection. Assessors also evaluate and document results, based on legal and laboratory requirements. Asbestos assessor courses cover NZQA unit standard 29768.

You may also find non-accredited asbestos awareness courses. Topics often include recognising the effects of asbestos on human health, identifying situations in which a removal licence is required, and understanding safety requirements when working with asbestos.

Asbestos awareness programmes also cover familiarisation with legislation related to asbestos. Note that these courses are not meant for licencing purposes, but rather for establishing a solid educational background to help make further training more efficient.

How Long Does Asbestos Training Last For?

Depending on the course you take, it can last anywhere from 4 to 48 hours. Different training providers may segment their programs into separate sessions to allow for mental breaks.

What Is The Difference Between Friable And Non-Friable?

Asbestos is usually classified into two: Class B or non-friable and Class A or friable.

Non-friable asbestos is the “safer” kind of asbestos because it cannot be crumbled or pulverised by hand. Therefore, the fibres don’t get easily dislodged and scattered into the air. A good example of this is when the asbestos has been mixed with hard materials such as cement.

However, do note that over time or due to damage, non-friable asbestos may become friable. For example, if the ACM has been degraded by chemicals, the top layers may be removed and expose the asbestos.

Friable asbestos is the more dangerous kind of asbestos because it can be easily reduced into powder. Sometimes, even just vigorously shaking an ACM containing friable asbestos can loosen and release the fibres.

Knowing the difference between the two kinds of asbestos is crucial in knowing who to call to conduct a removal job.

Hopefully, this article has helped clear up some questions about asbestos training. Best of luck to those planning to get their licences!

CC Training Academy offers a full range of asbestos courses ideal for various experience levels.