Mind the Gap between Asbestos in Soils Guidance and Training!

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR 2012), Regulation 10 requires every employer to ensure that adequate information, instruction and training is given to their employees who are,or who are liable to be, exposed to asbestos, or who supervise such employees so they can work safely and competently without risk to themselves and others.

For many years there was no guidance on asbestos in soils in relation to the application of these regulations and even now it is only through the efforts of industry collaboration that guidance on the risks posed by asbestos containing soils (ACS) has been published, namely:

Asbestos containing material (ACM) is hard enough to identify above ground in buildings but once fragments of ACM have become buried identification becomes even more difficult with the effects of discoloration and degradation.  Consequently, when investigating, sampling, disturbing or remediating ACS not only must personnel be trained to comply with CAR2012 Regulation 10 but have the necessary training and experience of identifying potential ACMs in the field.  It is not unusual even with all the current publicity and discussion about ACS for visible ACM to be overlooked both at the site reconnaissance stage and at the later investigation stage. In fact, in a recent presentation by a Regulator at the Newcastle ‘CIRIA Conference on Risk Assessment and management of asbestos in Made ground’ indicated that 30 -70% of the time ACS are not being identified with Regulators until the stage at which a discharge of planning conditions are sought.  Furthermore, despite CIRIA C733 being out since 2014 Regulators in the North-east were still receiving Phase 2 Reports dealing with asbestos where there was no reference to this guidance and with geo-environmental assessments often “tacked” on the back of a foundation design!

It seems that whilst there is now guidance, the industry is still struggling to consistently achieve good practice in line with this guidance, as evidence by common mistakes, errors and omissions such as:

  • Asbestos awareness training is sufficient for those carrying out a ground investigation;
  • Asbestos awareness training for buildings meets the Regulation 10 requirements for asbestos in soils projects;
  • There is no requirement to facefit and train staff in the use of FPP3 disposable masks .

As the industry gets better at identifying asbestos, construction projects knowingly encountering ACS are becoming more common.  Ground investigation work where there is a risk of disturbing asbestos is considered Non-Licensed Work unless there is a risk of significant asbestos fibres being released as specified by CAR2012. The HSE state “in addition to the ‘asbestos awareness’, those employees whose work will knowingly disturb ACMs, and which is defined as non-licensable work(NLW) or Notifiable Non-Licensed Work (NNLW), should receive additional task-specific information, instruction and training.” However, finding ground investigation personnel with the right training, skills in identification of asbestos in soils and experience can still be challenging with many organisations still under the misapprehension that asbestos awareness is all that is required.  Perhaps a legacy of the fact that some versions of the ‘AGS Interim Guidance on Site Investigation Asbestos Risk Assessment for the protection of Site Investigation and Geotechnical Laboratory Personnel’ under training spoke only of “specific asbestos awareness training.”

In part this problem has been driven by a lack of organisations offering training. This is at last beginning to change with CL:AIRE and CIRIA launching the following courses which are held at various venues across the country:

  • CAR-SOILTM – (Full day £354.00 incl vat)


  • Asbestos Awareness (Half-day £198 incl vat)


  • Non licensed Work (Full day £718.80 inc vat)*


  • How to deal with asbestos from soil on site (awareness training) – (One day, Free to LACL and BRMF members, £250 + VAT for all other attendees)


  • Training for non-licensed work for asbestos in the ground(One day, Free to LACL and BRMF members, £250 + VAT for all other attendees)*


For more information on course content, venues, dates and how to book please click here For more information on course content, venues, dates and how to book please click here

*Both organisations require attendance at an asbestos awareness training prior to taking the non-licensed work training. There are however differences in what evidence is required to satisfy this requirement and it is recommended the training provider’s conditions are checked out prior to booking. Furthermore, details may be subject to change.

This paltry number of training providers is expected to increase in the coming months as UKATA (a trade association which was formed to raise standards of training in the asbestos industry by setting standards, carrying out audits and managing the list of asbestos training providers) has just launched two new asbestos in soil course syllabuses:

With the government’s drive to develop more brownfield sites, particularly for housing, it is essential that all of us make sure personnel likely to be exposed to ACS or who supervise those employees have the proper information instruction and training; there really is no excuse for not being Regulation 10 compliant.