Health & Safety Executive launches safety campaign to combat asbestos related deaths

Health & Safety Executive launches safety campaign to combat asbestos related deaths

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has introduced a new safety campaign to combat asbestos related disease deaths. The campaign has been introduced due to 20 tradespeople dying weekly because of asbestos related conditions. Asbestos is not an unknown condition within modern industry with many different laws and legislations banning its use since the 1980’s. However negligence or rather lack of knowledge has meant workers are still being exposed at their work.

The research was generated by Censuswide in September 2014. The survey highlighted how many different tradespeople ranging from construction workers to carpenters could potentially come into contact with asbestos over 100 times a year due to the nature of their work. The survey also highlighted the areas of negligence that was putting workers at risk. Only 30 per cent of the people asked in the survey were able to state the correct procedures for safe asbestos working and more than 57 per cent noted at least one potentially lethal mistake regarding asbestos safety.

What is important to note in the information obtained from the study is that it is lack of knowledge, training and awareness that is causing the issue. Asbestos, despite its awareness, can still be found in common environments such as walls, floor tiles, boilers, guttering and the walls of buildings. Asbestos is then distributed through the work that is being done such as drilling or sanding. Once the substance has been distributed in the air, it then can be breathed in which can eventually leads o lung disease. Obviously, manual handling work is generally performed in these types of environments meaning awareness of the hazards should be first most before work is started.

The new safety campaign has been launched by Mark Harper, Minister responsible for Health and Safety, at the TradePoint store in Cricklewood. The campaign includes raising awareness and also distributing asbestos safety kits to tradespeople through their stores. A major feature of the campaign is the introduction of a new app for phones, tablets and laptops that tells the user about common risks regarding asbestos. The app aims to help workers quickly identify the risks such as certain structures that could contain asbestos and display the risks to them.

Mark Harper, Minister for Health and Safety said:

The number dying every year from asbestos related-disease 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”.

A quote from Simon Clark, an electrical consultant, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma at the age of 52, highlights the importance of asbestos awareness, even in today’s modern workplace.

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 employee’s 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.

[1] “1.3 Million tradespeople at risk from dangers of asbestos”, Health and Safety Executive, , October 2014