The HSE has launched a campaign this week on managing risks associated with asbestos, for those working in the construction trades.
The campaign, called ‘Asbestos and You,’ aims to target all tradespeople with a focus on younger workers in trades such as plastering and joinery. HSE wants to reach construction workers who started their careers after the use of asbestos was banned in 1999.
Credit: Lucion Services Ltd
5,000 people a year still die from asbestos related diseases due to the decades delay between exposure and the symptoms of disease appearing, according to the HSE.
Asbestos didn’t disappear when it was banned in the UK and remains in millions of homes and buildings.
HSE have said they are ‘concerned’ by the length of time it takes for symptoms to develop after asbestos exposure, which could lead to a perception among today’s younger workers that it is something that only impacts older people who were working before the ban.
Asbestos exposure is the highest cause of work-related deaths in Great Britain with those carrying out repairs or refurbishment work being at a higher risk of disturbing asbestos, especially when working in houses.
Builders, carpenters, electricians, joiners, plasterers, plumbers, and roofers, are just some of the trades being urged to take the risks of asbestos seriously.
“It can take 20 to 30 years for symptoms to appear”
HSE’s Chief Executive Sarah Albon said: “Asbestos exposure in Great Britain is still the single greatest cause of work-related deaths. We are committed to protecting people in the workplace and reducing future work-related ill health.
“Everyone working in construction today, of any age, must take the risk from asbestos seriously.
“Asbestos is dangerous when not maintained in a safe condition or if physically disturbed without the right measures in place to avoid fibres being released into the air.”
If asbestos fibres are inhaled, they can cause serious diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestos related lung cancer, asbestosis, and pleural thickening. Construction tradespeople of any age are at significant risk if they disturb materials containing asbestos during repairs and refurbishment, said the Regulator.
HSE’s Head of Health and Work Policy Mike Calcutt said: “These diseases often take a long time to develop, and it can take 20 to 30 years for symptoms to appear.
“It is crucial that all workers know how to recognise the dangers and take the right actions to protect themselves and those around them from being exposed to asbestos fibres.”
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