According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) around 20 people a week are dying from diseases related to asbestos exposure, such as asbestosis and Mesothelioma, with the numbers due to peak over the next six-year period.
A survey undertaken by the HSE placed focus on the fact that below 30% of tradespeople were able to identify the correct manner in which to handle asbestos in the workplace. They found that 55% of construction workers stated their knowledge about how to protect themselves from asbestos exposure risks, compared to 70% of joiners and carpenters.
The most worrying factor is that it was discovered that only 15% of tradespeople were aware that asbestos is still present in buildings which were built up to the year 2000.
An important aspect of the new campaign is a Beware Asbestos app which can be downloaded onto tablets and smartphones. The app should aid workers in their identification of the risks linked to asbestos and it also offers practical advice on how to work with asbestos. Along with this, 200000 asbestos safety kits will be offered to tradespeople.
Mark Harper, the health and safety minister said the number of fatalities from asbestos-related diseases is unacceptably high. He said that although asbestos has been banned for use in the construction industry, exposure still remains a real risk to tradespeople. The safety campaign is focused on highlighting the risks and offering easy ways for people to protect themselves.
A partner at Access Legal, who is a specialist in the handling of asbestos claims, Sara Hunt, said they support all initiatives which will increase awareness of asbestos, particularly among construction workers who are most at risk. She said the app and the safety kits are a step in the right direction, but more importantly, steps should be taken to find new ways of increasing awareness.
Image Credit: Elvert Barnes