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Many tradespeople ‘unaware’ of asbestos safety procedures

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Tradespeople work in rooms where asbestos is present an average of more than 100 times a year, but many are still unaware of the correct safety procedures, a new study by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has found.

A survey commissioned by the HSE found that only 30% of construction workers, carpenters, painters and decorators were able to identify all the right measures for safe asbestos working, while 57% made at least one potentially lethal mistake in trying to work out how to stay safe.

The research also discovered some of the workers were unable to recognise some common asbestos-containing materials and that only 15% realised the substance could be found in buildings built between 1970 and 2000.

Worryingly, a number of the tradespeople surveyed believed some of the common myths about reducing asbestos risks, including that opening windows and drinking water would help to protect them when working with the substance.

The HSE has now launched a new asbestos safety campaign designed to help tradespeople identify asbestos and provide them with advice on how to deal with it.

Asbestos safety kits are to be distributed to workers via branches of TradePoint and a web app that features a guide to identifying the substance and information about when to use a licensed asbestos contractor has been made available (click here to see it).

Philip White, the HSE’s Chief Inspector for Construction, said he was concerned that so many people who work on refurbishment and repair sites still had limited or even no asbestos knowledge.

“Our new campaign aims to help tradespeople understand some of the simple steps they can take to stay safe,” he added. “Our new web app is designed for use on a job so workers can easily identify if they are likely to face danger and can then get straight forward advice to help them do the job safely.”

For more information about safe asbestos removal by a licensed contractor, please contact BLS Asbestos.

Published: 14th October 2014