Identification of Asbestos in Bulk Samples (PLM) P401

Asbestos bulk analysis plays a key role helping to identify asbestos in materials, to allow asbestos in buildings to be effectively detected and managed in line with the Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) 2012, Regulation 4. P401 – Identification of Asbestos in Bulk Samples (PLM) gives analysts the knowledge and skills required to safely analyse bulk samples containing asbestos, identifying the specific asbestos component(s) as required in CAR 2012, Regulation 5.  

The requirement to be formally trained in asbestos analysis work is outlined in HSG248 Asbestos: The analysts guide for sampling, surveying and analysis, which states that any workers who are liable to be exposed to asbestos should be sufficiently trained in their area of asbestos work, to ensure they are not put at risk when working with asbestos. CAR 2012, Regulation 21 also states that all persons who analyse materials must be proven competent within an ISO/IEC 17025 laboratory, and this qualification is a step towards proving competence. 

Who is it for?

The qualification is suitable for anyone who is:  

  • Required to analyse bulk asbestos samples as part of their work 
  • Considering a career in asbestos analysis  
  • Responsible for managing asbestos laboratory analysts 


The level of a qualification indicates the relative complexity and depth of knowledge and skills required to attain the qualification.  

This is a level 4 qualification in the BOHS qualifications frameworkequivalent to NVQ Level 4 (HNC). 

How is it delivered?

The P401 qualification runs typically over three consecutive days and includes at least 16 hours of learning time. This comprises 12 hours taught (teaching and formative practical assessment) and four hours of independent study (in the student's own time). 

The course can be delivered more flexibly, such as on one day per week for three weeks, but should still include 12 hours of teaching. 

Modules / Learning objectives

Overall Objective

To provide you with theoretical and practical knowledge in the techniques of asbestos sample identification using polarised light microscopy (PLM) and dispersion staining techniques. 


  1. Asbestos Fibres 
  2. Set-up and use of a Polarised Light Microscope 
  3. Analysis of Bulk Samples 
  4. Practical work 


You must pass three parts within 12 months:  

  • Formative practical assessment 
  • Written Theory examination
  • Practical examination 


BOHS provides: 

  • A comprehensive Student Manual, which covers the full range of subject areas included in the qualification 
  • A support pack for tutors which provides sample examination questions and guidance on the written examinations 

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