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As a specialist in refurbishing listed buildings, Russell WBHO ensures project teams are appropriately trained in this specialist area.

The company recently teamed up with subcontractor Reddish Vale and asbestos analysts APEC to deliver an in-depth, hands-on training session for the Russell-WBHO Building Students.

The Licenced Asbestos Removal training was delivered over two days at the Rylands Building project in Manchester, where both Reddish Vale and APEC are currently undertaking the soft strip of the Grade II listed former Debenhams store.

A mock asbestos removal enclosure was constructed on one of the empty floorplates. Students were provided guidance on the construction and testing of the plastic covered room-within-a-room, where careful asbestos removal would take place.

They witnessed a smoke testing demonstration, which is designed to reveal any holes or leaks in the plastic sheeting, something which is always conducted before the enclosure is used. They were also shown how to gauge the required efficiency of the negative pressure units and how to decide if the enclosure is fit for use.

A mock removal and disposal operation followed, with the students able to view the works up close. They were provided with a detailed explanation of the components of the disposable suits and the portable decontamination units, the decontamination techniques used by operatives when leaving the enclosure, the required documentation and certification – including the ASB 5 Notification – and enclosure inspection regimes.

Finally, they heard from Peter Keeling of APEC, a Russell WBHO preferred asbestos analyst who explained the four-stage clearance, a highly detailed process which takes place at the end to ensure all asbestos has been removed to within accepted tolerances and the area is safe to reoccupy.

Within this Peter explained the science behind essential air sampling of the enclosure to check for airborne fibres, and provided an example slide for the students to study under a microscope.

Third year student Tom said: “The asbestos workshop was an invaluable experience which has equipped me with a range of practical knowledge and insight from industry experts. It set a benchmark for what I should expect of competent asbestos contractors and has provided me with the confidence to act diligently when encountering this type of work in the future.”

Grace, also a third year student, said: “I found the workshop very insightful. It clearly demonstrated from both a site management and commercial point of view, what is necessary to manage an asbestos package from start to finish.”

And fifth year student Jamie added: “Having not previously understood the potential programme and cost implications of poor asbestos management on a construction project, listening to both Roy and Peter has given me valuable knowledge which I will benefit from for future projects.”

The Building Student programme at Russell WBHO is a five-year professional apprenticeship which provides on-the-job training alongside a fully-funded part-time degree at the University of Salford. As part of the programme, trainees take part in various in-house training events to enhance their industry-specific learning.