Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. The name comes from the fact that the asbestos exposure affects the mesothelial cells in the body. These are found in the lungs, heart and abdomen. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and need mesothelioma advice, contact Accident Advice Helpline.
Asbestos exposure in the workplace
According to the Health and Safety Executive, asbestos exposure is the leading cause of work-related deaths in the United Kingdom. In fact, the UK has one of the highest rates of mesothelioma throughout the entire world. This is largely due to the fact that asbestos use continued in the UK long after it was stopped in other countries.
The people who are most at risk of developing mesothelioma include:
- Anyone who worked in the shipbuilding industry prior to 1980.
- Construction workers – structures built before 2000 are likely to contain asbestos.
- Demolition crews.
- Roofing contractors.
- Pipe fitters and plumbers.
- Maintenance workers.
This is not a comprehensive list of professions that may be at risk of asbestos exposure, but rather an overview of some of the higher risk occupations.
The duty to manage asbestos
As part of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, your employer has a duty to manage asbestos. In short, this duty includes presuming that materials contain asbestos until strong evidence can be found that they do not, making proper risk assessments, carefully planning how to manage asbestos risks, and providing information on the location and conditions of materials containing asbestos to anyone who may disturb or work on these materials.
What to do if you are at risk of asbestos exposure
The Health and Safety Executive provides some simple dos and don’ts when it comes to working with asbestos:
- If you suspect that a material might contain asbestos, stop and ask someone.
- Speak to a supervisor if you believe that work should rather be carried out by a licensed contractor.
- Stick to the plan of work and task guidance sheets provided by your employer.
- Do not forget about other risks you may be facing, such as work at height.
- Use your protective equipment and make sure you use it properly.
- Prevent waste build-up by cleaning as you go.
- Double-bag your waste and dispose of it appropriately.
- Make sure to wash before taking a break and going home.
- Make sure you have received the proper training before starting any work.
- Do not use a broom to sweep up dust and debris, either use a wet rag or a Type H vacuum.
- Do not take home overalls used while working with asbestos.
- Do not reuse disposable clothing or masks.
- Do not eat or drink in the work area.
Where can I get more mesothelioma advice?
Accident Advice Helpline provides a free legal helpline that is available 24 hours a day. Call us on 0800 180 4123 and speak to one of our advisers for further mesothelioma advice. If you are considering a mesothelioma claim, our advisers can explain the process and will select the best lawyer to handle your case.
Date Published: December 29, 2013
Author: David Brown