Dangers of Asbestos to Construction workers in the UK

   09 May 2023        Blogs

Asbestos kills more people in the UK every year than there are fatalities on the roads. That’s around 5,000 asbestos related deaths – 20 a week on average in 2021 – who die because of past exposure.

In 2021 there were 2,369 deaths from mesothelioma cancer. Mesothelioma is 99% caused by exposure to asbestos fibres, with the other 1% caused by exposure to foundry dust, volcanic dust and other unknown entities.

But it is not just a problem for older and retired tradespeople. Anyone can encounter asbestos today, in any building built or refurbished before the year 2000, and it is still one of the biggest occupational risks to construction workers in Britain. Asbestos may also be found in the soil where the precautions are different than those used in buildings.

Asbestos is deadly and is consequently a high priority for the government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and employers have a legal obligation to ensure that anyone at risk is properly trained.

What is asbestos and how was it used in construction?

The substance, which was extensively used in construction before 2000, releases potentially-lethal fibres into the air if it is disturbed. When inhaled, these begin to cause damage that can develop into life-changing and fatal diseases, including mesothelioma (a type of digestive cancer) and lung cancer. Two other serious conditions triggered by inhaling asbestos fibres are asbestosis and pleural thickening, both of which cause shortness of breath. People who smoke are especially at risk.

Asbestos is a natural fibrous rock that was widely used within homes and other buildings in the UK from 1950 during the post-war building boom until the mid-1980s, and it was still being used until the end of the 1990s. Its history as a material used by humans goes back thousands of years, the earliest known use being to strengthen earthenware pots. It became more widespread during the Industrial Revolution.

Dangers of asbestos

People have known about the dangers for a long time. The negative health effects were first noted in 1899, and the first documented death due to asbestos was just a few years later. In the 1930s, a government report highlighted the dangers, leading to the first regulations about its use. Eventually, its use was banned in many countries and regions, including the European Union. It has been replaced as an insulator in homes by fibreglass, invented in the 1930s, and more commonly in Europe, by mineral wool and glass wool. Meanwhile, companies that used to produce asbestos cement have invented new recipes, replacing asbestos with organic fibres.

Before it was phased out, asbestos was valued for its insulating properties. It is very effective at keeping heat in and cold out. It’s also fire resistant and protects against corrosion. Because of this, it is likely to be found in many construction materials and fittings, including ceiling tiles, pipe insulation, boilers and spray-on coatings.

Asbestos disposal

Asbestos is usually disposed of in landfill sites as hazardous waste. Demolishing buildings that contain large amounts of hazardous materials often means taking them apart. Alternatively, the building has to be cleared of asbestos piece by piece before it can be blown up or knocked down. Red Road Flats in Glasgow, where huge quantities of asbestos were used in wall panelling, were an example of this kind of operation.

Asbestos in soils

As with asbestos in buildings, the substance can also be extremely hazardous when disturbed in the soil. Finding it beforehand is a challenge for site managers. The asbestos may be present as fragments of insulation materials visible to the naked eye or as micro fibres requiring scientific tests to confirm their presence. What is more, not all asbestos looks the same. There are three main kinds – blue, brown and white – technically known as Crocidolite, Amosite and Chrysotile.

Health & Safety

Workers at risk need the skills to conduct proper risk assessment and to implement a range of other steps depending on the nature and scale of the problem. These could include ensuring that licensed personnel carry out remediation work, informing the Health and Safety Executive of the incident and providing protective equipment including respirators. Dealing with asbestos in soil can be a major operation. Disposing of waste and decontaminating operatives may be required, and air monitoring might have to be set up on site or near to neighbouring homes.

Whether it is extracted from a building, the soil or elsewhere, British health and safety regulations stipulate that asbestos material has to be removed to a landfill site via an approved route at certain times of the day in specially-adapted vehicles.

So, how do you prevent yourself or your employees coming into hazardous contact with asbestos?

The first step recommended by the HSE is to ensure that workers always consider the possibility that the property or plant they are working on may contain asbestos.

The HSE states: “Before the start of maintenance, refurbishment, demolition or any other type of construction work, employers must identify the presence of asbestos as part of their risk assessment. The owners or managers of non-domestic premises have a duty to manage asbestos. This involves identifying and recording the location and condition of any asbestos. This record must be made available to anyone carrying out work to help them to manage the risks of exposure to themselves, their employees and others. You should ask to see a copy of this to help you assess the risks and decide on any control measures you may need to put in place.”

Specialist training

To support employers and workers to protect themselves against the dangers of asbestos, Develop Training Ltd have developed two specialist courses – Asbestos Awareness and Asbestos Awareness in Soil and Made Ground. Both of our training courses raise awareness of the risks and how to avoid contamination.

View the courses:

Quality Assurance and Audit team

   27 April 2023         News

Established in October 2021, Develop’s Quality Assurance and Audit (QAA) Team was designed with the direct objective of ensuring the highest level of quality possible was being delivered to Develop’s customers.

This strategic initiative was designed by Develop’s Head of Operations and Training, Matthew Gray, and built collaboratively through to implementation with Gary Fisher, a former instructor and the current Quality Assurance and Audit Manager. Matt and Gary assembled experienced individuals from multiple departments within Develop, and further individuals from outside the organisation.

Though initially designed to provide risk-based assurance, insight, and advice for Develop as it worked toward its strategic objectives, the QAA team’s work became such a recognisable success that Develop began offering their quality assurance services to external clients.

The QAA team credits their success to their ‘Three-Lines of Defence’ approach to quality assurance.

  • Line one is the management of technical training and assessment.
  • Line two is about using internal quality assurance to drive the quality of the delivery.
  • Line three is about being an independent audit function able to provide an unbiased approach to quality assurance and drive continuous improvement.

The team now work with six Awarding Organisations providing Develop with the risk-based assurance of nineteen accredited schemes that cover 80 qualifications delivered to over 8000 learners every academic year.

One of the most recent success stories the QAA team has been involved in is the consultation work it is undertaking for its sister company CompEx. This involves an independent external quality assurance service ensuring CompEx’s approved training centres are meeting the quality requirements of the International Explosive Atmospheres Accreditation scheme. This requires the team traveling to not only UK centres, but also involves travel to European centres, and further afield to America, Asia, and the Far East.

This remarkable commitment to their duties and continued success culminated in the Quality Assurance team achieving the well-deserved title of ‘Team of the Year’, a coveted award given out to groups of staff with an exceptional performance over a 12-month period.

To make your own enquiry with the quality assurance team about conducting risk-based audits at your own company, please contact Develop Training on 0800 876 6708.

Charley King joins as a Finance Apprentice

   19 April 2023         News

Develop Training are proud to welcome Charley King – who is joining Daniel Butcher’s Finance Team as a Finance Apprentice.

After Charley’s GCSE’s studies, she gained A level Qualification in Biology, Psychology and Criminology, deciding that attending University would not be her next steps. She went on to the position of Business Administrator Apprentice – were in this role she worked closely with the accountant and decided that accountancy was a career path she wanted to pursue.

In July 2022, Charley moved away from her hometown to Malvern, Worcestershire with her partner and obtained a Level 2 Accountancy Apprenticeship qualification. In her role, Charley assisted in account reconciliations in preparation of her team’s audit as well as developing training resources and material for operations.

Charley has recently moved back near her hometown and in her time away from work enjoys the opportunity to read and spend time adventuring with her partner and friends.

We are excited to have Charley joining the team, where she will be aiming to complete a Level 3 AAT, Association of Accounting Technicians Qualification.

Georgina Rowbotham joins as a Training Administrator

   19 April 2023         News

Develop Training are proud to welcome Georgina Rowbotham as a Training Administrator based in York.

Previous to Develop, Georgina worked in hospitality as a General Manager of a restaurant in Bristol – during lockdown this came with its challenges as the restaurant had to close its doors. However, Georgina helped establish and coordinate an emergency food provision service – this benefitted over 400 people facing homelessness.

How is she finding Develop?

“Develop is made a lovely place to work by its staff. All my colleagues are positive, friendly, and helpful; generally a joy to be around. I think this is also a reflection of the company keeping its staff’s interests at the heart of decision making. I have also joined Develop at a very exciting time as the York refurb is due for completion and I am lucky to have a beautiful new centre to work in.”

Outside of work…

“In the summer I enjoy wild swimming, camping and barbecues. In winter I can usually be found snoozing with my cat. The pub, though, is a year-round affair.”

New mobile confined spaces vehicle

   05 April 2023         News

Develop Training unveils new mobile confined spaces training vehicle.

Leading provider of compliance, technical and safety training, Develop Training has unveiled its new mobile confined spaces unit, a vehicle capable of travelling around the country to provide industry-leading confined spaces training.

Capable of delivering seven of Develop Training’s CABWI and City and Guilds accredited confined spaces courses, the new unit completely transforms from a functioning vehicle to a bespoke training environment in just 15 minutes.

Made up of over 35 metres of tunnels stretching two levels of simulated passages, the unit includes full CCTV and audio facilities, an extended roof-space with handrail, and smoke machines. These features allow Develop Training to deliver immersive training that better replicates the confined spaces that practicing technicians may face.

The unit, which takes up only four car parking spaces wherever it’s parked meaning that training can be delivered almost anywhere, follows an expressed demand by employers looking for confined spaces courses for their workforce.

Kate Denial, Operational Training Manager at Develop Training, said: “We’re proud to make a significant step in the continued growth of our confined spaces training division as we offer our portable training solution to employers around the country.

“The mobile confined spaces unit is a key signifier of our ongoing commitment to providing an industry-leading standard of training that also adapts to the speciality requirements of our clients.”

Meet the Confined Space team

   03 April 2023         Blogs

Who are Develop’s Confined Space team?

Develop currently have two confined space trainers – Joe Cheatle and Chris Tennant. Both these highly qualified trainers are able to deliver a range of confined space training courses and provide support to delegates.

Joe Cheatle joined Develop Training in September 2022 but began his career working for Mines Rescue where he worked for 5 years. Joe has brought with him an in-depth knowledge of safety in low, medium and high risk confined spaces as well as his TAQA and Institution of Occupational Safety and Health qualifications as well as being First Aid trained. During his time at Mines Rescue Joe gained experience writing risk assessments and providing rescue solutions to industrial service companies with access and safety problems.

Chris Tennant joined Develop 8 years ago in November 2014. He has worked in the water industry all his career – he has been contracted to Thames Water, Seven Trent, Scottish Water and many others. Chris has a deep understanding of all confined spaces as well as all important industry experience. Chris has his TAQA, AET and Lantra qualifications as well as being first aid trained.  Chris has further worked on a major contract, with an influential company giving management, planning and other teams training about how Confined Space work should be undertaken and the qualifications required for their staff to use the areas.

How are Develop’s Confined Space courses delivered?

Joe said this about his delivery style;

I like to mix theory with the practical side of the subject as it’s helpful to the delegates to introduce equipment gradually as the course progresses as I find the majority of learners like the hands-on side as it really helps to cement their understanding of the content. I also like to utilise Q&As and different classroom teaching techniques to keep learners engaged and will often use the whiteboard to talk through different topics.”

Chris added;

I like to create a relaxed environment as I’ve found relaxed people learn better in less pressurised environments. Confined Spaces is a growing industry and one that more companies are, rightly so, taking training seriously. I’ve also seen a noticeable increase in online training for the theoretical side of our courses.”

But what do they enjoy about being a confined spaces trainer?

Chris said;

For me it’s meeting people. I really enjoy talking to delegates and passing on the knowledge I have gained through my experience. I take pride in passing on my skill set to the next generation of tradespeople.”

Joe further expanded with;

Being able to teach people something they need to further their career is what gives me job satisfaction as I really do enjoy helping people.”

Kate Denial, Operations Manager for Cross Industry training at Develop Training explains;

Joe and Chris are great assets to my team. They’re dedicated and passionate about making sure training is done right. They’ve both received fantastic feedback from delegates and we’re proud to have them as part of the Develop family.”

Further information & resources

Find out more about our Confined Space Mobile Unit

View our full range of confined space training courses

Take a look at our 20-point checklist for producing a safe system of work in confined spaces

Pictured, left to right: Chris Tennant, Kate Denial, Joe Cheatle.

National Careers Week 2023

   11 March 2023         Blogs

Develop Training discusses the power of upskilling for National Careers Week 2023 (March 6th-11th).

At the start of the new year, we wrote about the transformative power of upskilling both for individuals and for those overseeing a workforce. Upskilling, the practice of perpetual refinement and development, is something we’re passionate about because it’s something we know our services are guaranteed to deliver on.

Now, for National Careers Week, we believe it’s more important than ever to consider the potential of upskilling not only for your staff, but for yourself. So, whether your industry’s focus be Facilities Management, Utilities, Leadership and Management or Building Services Engineering, we’d like to walk you through some of the short and long courses we have available.

Take, for example, the multitude of courses we offer as part of our water training services. Here, a member of staff could find new space to develop the fundamental skills required to lay the foundations of national water networks (NCO2WM) or become better acquainted the risks associated with managing water supplies in both commercial and domestic environments (WS1).

Equally, within gas services we can provide courses acutely relevant to detailing the best practices for excavations (UE2) or tailored to look at the overall management of distribution within MOD (Ministry of Defence) gas networks. This breadth of scale extends to each one of our training areas, providing businesses and individuals with a precision choice of areas in which they can newly skill themselves.

National Careers Week brings into question what a ‘career’ really entails. A career shouldn’t necessarily mean one speciality, and it certainly shouldn’t mean one role, so why not give yourself, or your staff, the best chance to make the most of your work? At Develop Training, we believe a career is about the individual, not necessarily the practice. By choosing one of our courses, you can make the decision to invest in yourself, and your team, not for what a career may look like today, but for what it might look like tomorrow.

Recruiting experienced associates

   10 March 2023         News

Due to high demand, Develop Training, the UK’s leading provider of compliance, technical and safety training is looking to recruit experienced associates to join our growing team.

Are you seeking a new challenge and able to deliver any of the following courses:

  • Gas Network Instrumentation Modules (GNIM)
  • HV & LV Safe Systems of Work
  • Mechanical
  • Water Systems Legionella
  • Water Systems Water Regulations & Unvented
  • Street works (NRSWA)
  • NCO Gas Networks
  • Gas Networks

Derby Training Centre Refurbishment

   08 March 2023         News

Latest update available here: Derby Centre Refurbishment – Update – Develop Training


Develop Training are happy to share that the Derby Training Centre is having a major refurbishment!

The project is estimated to take 16 weeks – we are aiming to keep disruption to a minimum for all those attending our courses over the coming weeks. If you are a delegate due to attend a course on site, don’t worry as all the information you need to know will be in your joining instructions.

Please note that the front car park will be closed off for the entire 16 weeks. To access the rear car park please use the side entrance just off Sandown Road.

The refurbishment project will include a complete renovation of the existing classrooms, office spaces, reception, toilets, and communal areas, as well as some external areas. There will also be a newly refurbished canteen for delegates, as well as a new coffee break out area!

Join our mailing list and follow us on social media to keep up to date with the latest news.

If you have any queries please contact us on 0800 876 6708.

International Women’s Day 2023

   08 March 2023         Blogs

Develop Training celebrates International Women’s Day 2023 (March 8th).

With International Women’s Day marking a momentous day for women around the globe, it made the perfect occasion for us at Develop Training to discuss the unique situation for women in our industry, and how we have been engineering and delivering an essential solution to the challenges they face.

Inside the most substantial recent report on women in the energy and utilities sectors back in 2020, the Energy and Utilities Skills partnership found there was, though small, an integral growth recorded in the number of women in positions such as managers, directors, and senior officials in the utilities industry.

With a forecasted 28,000 vacancies for 2020-2029 senior leadership jobs in the sector, we believe that our trusted role as a career launchpad at Develop Training puts us in a position to make sure those vacancies are filled by the hardworking women who deserve them. Figures show that women predominately take up secretarial and administrator roles within the sector, but this is a figure we believe is destined to change.

It’s key to understand that the most substantial growth in the sector for 2020, recorded separately by POWERful Women, was not only in senior positions, but those at the very top. In fact, the number of women holding executive board seats in the energy sector more than doubled in the year since they last recorded their findings (2019).

The reality, though, is that this number only corresponded to 25 more women in those seats. So, we ask ourselves, what can be done to add some welcome digits onto that number?

The answer we’ve come up with here is our ground-breaking Women in Utilities programme. Running every year since 2020, the programme rapidly accelerates the careers of women in the utility industry by providing them with expert help and guidance in order to open up new pathways toward senior leadership roles.

In Spring 2022, the Womens Utilities Network commissioned an extensive survey to understand the perspective of women in the utility sector. Two of the fundamental things they found in this report was that women felt ‘organisations needed more inclusive hiring and development processes’, and that ‘more networking and support was needed for women working in the sector’.

Ultimately, these are the key tenants of our Women in Utilities programme. By staying true to our underpinning goals of empowerment, advocacy, mentoring and development, we have been able to run an advanced programme of training, networking, and mentoring for women in the utility industry valued at up to £15K – all at no cost to the participant.

To view what some of the most recent cohort had to say about the programme, click here.

Women in Utilities will return later this year. To find out more, or to register your interest, please contact us.

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