Twenty builders a week die from asbestos

Grant Prior 5 years ago
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Twenty tradespeople die every week from asbestos related diseases as an HSE survey revealed the full extent of construction workers’ exposure to the deadly material.

The survey showed carpenters, painters and decorators could still come into contact with asbestos on average more than 100 times a year.

The survey also revealed some common myths believed by those at risk with:

One in seven believing that drinking a glass of water will help protect them from the deadly dust and

One in four thinking that opening a window will help to keep them safe.

Only a third of those asked were able to identify all the correct measures for safe asbestos working while more than half made at least one potentially lethal mistake in trying to identify how to stay safe.

Figures show that twenty tradespeople on average die every week from asbestos related diseases. 

The research, undertaken by Censuswide in September 2014, shows that while more than half knew that asbestos could be in old buildings built before 1970, only 15% know that it could still be found in buildings built up to the year 2000.

HSE has launched a new safety campaign with Mark Harper, Minister responsible for Health and Safety and TradePoint.

A key feature of the campaign is the creation of a new web app for phones, tablets and laptops that helps tradespeople easily identify where they could come into contact with the deadly material as they go about their day-to-day work.

Harper said: “The number dying every year from asbestos related-diseases is unacceptably high.

“Despite being banned in the construction industry, asbestos exposure remains a very serious risk to tradespeople.

“This safety campaign is about highlighting the risks and easy measures people can take to protect themselves.

“We hope the safety kits and the web app will encourage people to be aware of the risks, think twice, and take precautions to stay safe.”

Philip White, HSE’s Chief Inspector for Construction, said: “Asbestos is still a very real danger and the survey findings suggest that the people who come into contact with it regularly often don’t know where it could be and worryingly don’t know how to deal with it correctly, which could put them in harm’s way.

“Our new campaign aims to help tradespeople understand some of the simple steps they can take to stay safe.

“Our new web app is designed for use on a job so workers can easily identify if they are likely to face danger and can then get straight forward advice to help them do the job safely.”

Former electrical consultant Simon Clark, who in 2012 was diagnosed with mesothelioma when he was just 52, said: “When I was younger I didn’t think of the dangers of asbestos and I must have been exposed to it frequently.

“Since being diagnosed, I’ve had to give up my work and let some of my employees go – which is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

“It is vitally important that everybody knows when they might be exposed and takes the correct steps to protect themselves.”

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