Sensitization of young craftsmen

The Health and Safety Executive has launched a new campaign called ‘Asbestos and You’ to raise awareness of the risks among younger tradespeople

The Labor Inspectorate’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a new ‘Asbestos and You’ campaign to raise awareness of the risks associated with the hazardous substance.

The campaign is aimed at all craftsmen with a focus on younger workers in trades such as plasterers and carpenters. HSE aims to reach construction workers who started their careers after the use of asbestos was banned in 1999 and may be less familiar with the risks.

Asbestos-related diseases still kill 5,000 people each year, and asbestos can still be found in buildings built or renovated before the year 2000.

There is concern that asbestos is viewed as a problem of the past rather than the present

Materials containing asbestos were used extensively in the construction and maintenance of buildings in Britain from the 1950s until it was banned. This means that construction workers of all ages can still be exposed to asbestos fibers while working on older buildings.

The regulator is concerned that given the long time it takes for symptoms to develop after exposure to asbestos, today’s younger workers believe it’s something that only affects older people who worked before the ban.

HSE Chief Executive Sarah Albon said: “Asbestos exposure is still the single largest cause of work-related deaths in the UK. We are committed to protecting people in the workplace and reducing future work-related illnesses.

“Anyone working in construction today, regardless of age, must take the risk of asbestos seriously.

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“Asbestos is dangerous if not maintained in a safe condition or if it is physically disturbed without proper measures in place to prevent fibers from being released into the air.”

Asbestos fibers can cause significant health problems and can even be fatal

When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can cause serious diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, asbestosis and pleural thickening. Builders of all ages are at significant risk when interfering with materials containing asbestos during repairs and refurbishments.

Mike Calcutt, Head of Health and Work Policy at HSE, said: “These diseases often take a long time to develop and it can take 20 to 30 years for symptoms to appear.

“It is crucial that all workers know how to recognize the hazards and take the right steps to protect themselves and those around them from exposure to asbestos fibers.”

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