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Health and Safety Executive launch new asbestos safety campaign

October 9 2014

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a new safety campaign amid concerns of confusion on how to combat exposure to asbestos.

A new HSE report has revealed that construction workers and tradespeople could come into contact with asbestos more than 100 times a year.

With 20 people dying every week from asbestos-related diseases, the HSE revealed some common myths, such as drinking water or opening a window to keep workers safe.

A survey of 500 tradespeople showed that fewer than a third could identify the correct measures for safe asbestos working, while only 15 per cent knew that the dust could still be found in buildings built up to the year 2000.

Health and safety minister Mark Harper said that the number dying every year from asbestos-related diseases is unacceptably high.

“Despite being banned in the construction industry, asbestos exposure remains a very serious risk to tradespeople,” he said.

“This safety campaign is about highlighting the risks and easy measures people can take to protect themselves.”

Philip White, HSE’s chief inspector for construction, said the new campaign aims to help tradespeople understand some of the simple steps they can take to stay safe.

“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 straightforward advice to help them do the job safely,” he said.

Steve Murphy, general secretary of construction union Ucatt, said that over the last four and a half years, thousands of workers have been needlessly exposed to asbestos and their health has been put at risk because of that decision.

“It is vital that construction workers receive proper training in the dangers of asbestos, where it is likely to be found and what to do if you suspect asbestosis present,” added Steve.

“It is essential that pressure is placed on employers to ensure that training takes place and that workers are not victimised or threatened when raising concerns about asbestos, which is often the case.”