Asbestos training company celebrates £1m turnover

The UK's leading provider of asbestos training has powered past the £1million turnover mark for the first time.

Les Cooper
Les Cooper

And the North-East firm is helping to celebrate the best in the county as a sponsor of our Northumberland Business Awards, with the winners to be announced on Thursday night.

Hebburn-based UK Asbestos Specialist Ltd, known as UKasl, was set up by owner and managing director Les Cooper in 2003 and has trained more than half-a-million workers in the dangers of asbestos in the last seven years alone.

"Growth has been strong over the last few years, but spectacular over the last ten months, and we’re delighted to have achieved the £1million figure," said Les.

UKasl enables a range of regional, national and international companies to comply with statutory duties relating to the protection of workers from the hazards of asbestos. The company works with national construction and refurbishment companies, local authorities, social housing sector companies, schools, colleges, universities as well as sole traders in the construction sector.

Les said: "We work with companies involved with building, refurbishment or demolition where working with asbestos may be involved. It’s UK law – enforced and governed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – that any worker who is liable to disturb asbestos, or anyone who supervises them, must get the right training, and that’s what we do."

UKasl’s courses have all undergone stringent approvals and audits and are fully approved by RoSPA, IATP and other recognised asbestos training associations as well as the international

ACCREDITAT organisation.

"Asbestos is known as the silent killer because of its link to lung cancer and mesothelioma and is still responsible for the deaths of more than 5,000 people a year in the UK," Les added. "Over the last seven years we have trained and certificated well over 500,000 workers in the construction sector."

He was born in Jarrow and started his working life as an apprentice sheet metalworker at engineering company Baker Perkins. He then worked in shop-fitting and bank security before

moving into the health and safety sector, having gained a Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety from Nottingham Trent University. He identified a gap in the training of workers in the handling of asbestos while working as a sub-contractor on nuclear reactor sites.

In 2003, he set up a new business, UK Asbestos Specialists Ltd, with a business partner, and went it alone in 2010 – after which the business boomed. UKasl has since employed further e-learning specialists and multi media companies to enhance their portfolio of courses, as well as employing nationally-based one-to-one training consultants.

Les said: "We've done so well over recent years, but the appointment of Sarah Young as business manager last January was the key to what has been an incredible 2017 – we've grown more than 40 per cent over the last 12 months, and one month alone had growth of 83 per cent compared to the same month last year. Our success is down to the way our team of expert training advisers works with our clients – we don't try to fool them with science and we listen carefully to their needs before delivering what they want. Our trainers are also very knowledgeable and vastly experienced and because of the size of business we are – just a small, core team at our Hebburn base – we’re very flexible."

Clients include Durham County Council, Newcastle City Council, Sunderland City Council, ISOS Housing, Gentoo, Places for People, Sir Robert McAlpine, Mears, Wates, Dale & Valley Homes, Huntsman, Aberdeenshire Council, BAM Construction, Clancy Docwra, Sonic Rail and Epping Forest Council.

"Our ambition is to continue growing, but we are a company built on honesty and our company tagline will stay as we would rather fail in originality, than succeed in imitation," added Les. "So we’ll be doing more innovation online and we’re working on a few digital ideas which will keep us ahead of any competition."

For more information about UKasl, go to