A new campaign aims to raise awareness among builders and tradespeople about the dangers of asbestos.
The safety campaign has been launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) amid news that 20 people die from asbestos-related illness every week.
And the results of a recent survey show that less than a third of tradespeople are familiar with practices for working safely with asbestos.
Just 15% are aware that the deadly dust may still be present in buildings built up to the year 2000. And less than a fifth realise that asbestos is sometimes hidden in toilet seats and cisterns.
Mesothelioma, a form of cancer of which asbestos is the only known cause, usually takes around 20 to 50 years to develop. The number of people affected by the disease remains on the increase and is expected to peak next year.
Accident Advice Helpline can help with compensation claims for illnesses or diseases resulting from asbestos exposure in the workplace.
Asbestos is banned in the construction industry but exposure to the material is still a serious risk to tradespeople.
Health and safety minister Mark Harper says too many people are dying every year from asbestos-related diseases, but says this campaign is aimed at raising awareness of the number of things people can do to protect themselves.
The HSE’s chief inspector for construction, Philip White, says the results of the survey show that a worrying amount of people could be putting themselves at risk because they are not aware of the correct procedures to take when dealing with asbestos.
He says the HSE’s campaign is targeted towards these tradespeople, informing them of how to deal with the substance safely.
Training is essential
A new web app has been launched as part of the campaign aimed at helping workers to identify if they are likely to be in danger and offering them clear and simple advice on how to do their job without putting themselves in harm’s way.
Steve Murphy, general secretary of construction union Ucatt, says proper training around the handling of asbestos is essential for all construction workers.
He says employers need to ensure training takes place and and employees are not singled out and bullied for raising concerns about asbestos.