Asbestos Figures Reveal Decades of Poor Practice
Asbestos-related disease, mesothelioma, has claimed more than 35,000 lives in the past 30 years, and research shows death rates are increasing, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Annual figures show that 2,156 people died from mesothelioma in 2007 alone, up 5% on the previous year. Now with a higher death rate than road casualties, Stephen Williams, HSE’s Regional Director for the London Division, feels workers are naïve to the constant threat of asbestos.
“What comes across reading the figures is the size of the problem – these are big figures. The HSE is finding that workers, particularly tradespeople, don’t think they are personally at risk,” commented Mr Williams.
This week, 11 employment agencies were warned by the Employment Agency Standards over advertising asbestos removal jobs. The agencies did not obtain licenses from the HSE allowing them to legally advertise the position, showing how common and wide-spread asbestos related problems are becoming.
The HSE is launching its Hidden Killers campaign this week, and feels businesses need to do more to combat the developing asbestos problem plaguing UK business.
The £1.2m campaign is targeting workers’ knowledge of workplace dangers, hoping to raise awareness of risks posed by asbestos and protection methods.
“The one thing we hear time and again from older workers is that they were never told about the risks of working with asbestos,” added HSE’s Asbestos Programme Director, Steve Coldrick.
“With this campaign we can educate today’s workforce about the risks and what action they need to take to protect themselves from this deadly dust.”