British Lung Foundation launches asbestos awareness campaign
The British Lung Foundation has launched a major new asbestos awareness campaign aimed at tradespeople.
An average of 20 tradespeople die each week of illnesses caused by exposure to asbestos, making it the single biggest cause of workplace fatalities in the UK.
Research undertaken for the BLF found a worrying lack of asbestos training among self-employed construction workers and small employers. In particular, workers were unaware of how to identify the substance and what to do if they did find it.
The study also discovered that some tradespeople were worried about losing out on jobs if they raised concerns about asbestos.
Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said that workers needed to be aware that disturbing asbestos and inhaling the fibres can have serious consequences, including the possibility of developing the terminal chest cancer mesothelioma.
That is the thinking behind the new Take 5 and Stay Alive campaign, which aims to ensure tradespeople receive the right asbestos training so that they can identify the substance and assess how to safely deal with it.
“Twice as many people die from asbestos-related illnesses than on the roads each year in Britain. It’s the biggest work-related killer, and the numbers of deaths associated with it are rising each year,” said Dr Woods.
“Sole traders and people working for small companies are often under particular pressure to take jobs and deliver quickly, and this can sometimes put them at particular risk of asbestos exposure.”
She added: “Our message is simple – taking just five minutes to assess the situation could save your life, and keep your family, friends, clients and business safe from exposure to potentially fatal asbestos dust.”