A British Lung Foundation survey has revealed that most tradespeople are unaware of the health risks posed by asbestos. Out of 400 people in this survey relating to asbestos, it was found that 75% had not received any form of asbestos awareness training. The survey showed that asbestos related diseases are currently the main cause of work related ill health. The asbestos related survey estimated that approximately 3000 people die each year due to exposure to the mineral dust.
Asbestos was commonly used in the construction of many buildings due to its insulation and fire retardant properties. Asbestos was used in some building materials until 1999; however most was phased out in the early 1980s. Tradespeople now have the highest risk of developing asbestos related lung cancers, mesothelioma and asbestosis as they regularly disturb and come into contact with materials that may contain asbestos fibres. Building owners should always consider having an asbestos survey carried out on their premise. An asbestos survey can help evaluate the presence and extent of any suspect asbestos containing materials in any building and assess their condition.
The British Lung Foundation survey relating to asbestos concentrated on builders, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, joiners and gas fitters. The survey found one in 10 had felt under pressure to continue working even if they had not seen an asbestos survey for the building and suspected that asbestos was present. In addition, nearly a third of those in the survey mistakenly believed that they did not need to see any types of asbestos survey because asbestos had already been removed from all British buildings.
The majority of tradesmen - 81% in the British Lung Foundation’s asbestos survey - said they never, rarely or only sometimes asked if the site they were working on had been checked for asbestos via an official asbestos survey, before they started a job - even though it is a legal requirement for them to see Asbestos surveys which informs them of the presence of asbestos.
Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006, it is a legal requirement that all those that may disturb the fabric of any building must have Asbestos Awareness Training. This form of awareness training for asbestos helps tradespeople increase their general awareness of asbestos within their working environment.
It has been estimated that as many as 20 tradespeople die every week as a result of exposure to asbestos in their workplace. In fact exposure to asbestos has been deemed as one of Britain’s biggest workplace killers.
So why isn’t asbestos awareness training a number one priority for all tradespeople because with better training they would reduce their risks of asbestos related lung disease and mesothelioma. However if the British tradespeople continue their ignorance to the dangers of asbestos and don’t put their own health first then campaigns, like those run by the British Lung Foundation, to eliminate asbestos related cancers such as mesothelioma and make them a disease of the past, are a lost cause.
So lets all strive to make our British tradespeople more aware of the dangers of asbestos by making sure asbestos awareness training is a core skill they all own and all tradespeople are presented with official asbestos surveys before they start a job on a particular site.