The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a campaign to remind people working in construction to manage the risks associated with asbestos.
Despite the substance being banned in the building industry since 1999, figures show that 5,000 people a year still die from asbestos-related diseases.
It didn’t disappear when it was banned in the UK and asbestos remains in millions of homes and buildings, the HSE has pointed out.
It has therefore reminded those carrying out repairs or refurbishment work that they are at a higher risk of disturbing asbestos, especially when working in houses.
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Builders, carpenters, electricians, joiners, plasterers, plumbers and roofers are just some of the trades being urged to take the risks of asbestos seriously.
The campaign particularly wants to reach those who started their careers from the year 2000, after the use of asbestos was banned, so they know the risk still remains.
HSE has developed a specific Asbestos and You website dedicated to raising awareness about the condition and its dangers in the workplace and wider community.
A recent survey by the Labour Research Department concluded many NHS buildings, including many hospitals, remain riddled with asbestos. The UK’s often ageing schools’ estate is also considered a worry in this context.
HSE’s chief executive Sarah Albon said: “Asbestos exposure in Great Britain is still the single greatest cause of work-related deaths. We are committed to protecting people in the workplace and reducing future work-related ill health.
“Everyone working in construction today, of any age, must take the risk from asbestos seriously. Asbestos is dangerous when not maintained in a safe condition or if physically disturbed without the right measures in place to avoid fibres being released into the air.”
HSE’s head of health and work policy Mike Calcutt said: “These diseases often take a long time to develop, and it can take 20 to 30 years for symptoms to appear.
“It is crucial that all workers know how to recognise the dangers and take the right actions to protect themselves and those around them from being exposed to asbestos fibres.”