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April 28, 2015

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Tradespeople ‘complacent’ about asbestos, survey shows

InfographicsThirty years after the UK banned the import and use of both blue (crocidolite) and brown (amosite) asbestos, the majority of tradespeople still don’t recognise that asbestos exposure continues to be the country’s biggest workplace killer.

A new survey has shown that while nearly 60 per cent of tradespeople can identify asbestos and 40 per cent know somebody that has been affected by it, the majority still believe that stress is the bigger threat to their health.

The survey, by industrial diseases compensation specialists Jefferies Solicitors, highlights how a worrying 31 per cent of tradespeople surveyed think that stress is the UK’s biggest single cause of work-related deaths, while only 5 per cent believe that asbestos exposure is accountable. Respondents listed other reasons such as an accident with machinery (18 per cent), a stroke or heart attack (17 per cent) or working at height (14 per cent) ahead of asbestos exposure.

The results are in contrast to the recent statistics from the Health and Safety Executive, which states that asbestos is the biggest workplace killer in the UK, with 20 tradespeople dying from asbestos exposure every week. This also mirrors the thoughts of Britain’s leading expert on mesothelioma, a type of cancer that is linked to the exposure of asbestos. Professor Julian Peto believes that Britain is currently in the middle of a mesothelioma epidemic caused by the use of asbestos in the UK prior to it being outlawed.

Worryingly, only half of the tradespeople questioned have had training to deal with asbestos, despite 36 per cent claiming that they have been exposed to asbestos at some point in their working lives. In fact, the survey suggests that asbestos is still a big problem in the UK with 40 per cent of respondents also stated that they personally know somebody who has been diagnosed with an asbestos health problem, such as mesothelioma.

Michael Jefferies, managing director of Jefferies Solicitors comments: “The results of this survey are certainly surprising. We expected awareness to be much higher about the risks of asbestos exposure, but in fact, the results show that tradespeople are becoming complacent about the dangers.

“While asbestos may be banned from being used in buildings today, it hasn’t gone completely, which is why we are urging the trade who think they have been exposed to asbestos to look at recent government advice on how to claim compensation. Recent guidelines have changed which means it’s now easier to claim, thanks to a new support package available for mesothelioma victims and their families.”

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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Vince Butler
Vince Butler
9 years ago

Interesting take on an important subject. One key factor missing from the article is the fact that tradespeople generally don’t have asbestos – that belongs to the clients they work for. Asbestos awareness training is mixed in its quality, delivery and content; some is fabulous, some is acceptable, lots is awful or non-existent. It was also only made a specific legal requirement as late as the CAR ’06. Therefore it’s not surprising the responses have been disappointing. What is more important and needs further investigation is the dreadful compliance with the duty to manage asbestos under CAR ’12 and its… Read more »