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Transcript - Asbestos: The Hidden Killer - behind the scenes

Welcome to the HSE Podcast

In this episode we join three apprentice engineers who were asked to produce a video for young people highlighting the dangers of asbestos.

I think there's a lot of interesting facts we found out that we wouldn't know. Asbestos killed more people than road accidents last year. Its quite unbelievable because its quite well publicised, road accidents and things like that but asbestos is kept quite quiet and now that its not used people think that the hazard's not still there but even though its not used anymore, it is still present.

And HSE Infoline's Rachel Jones explains who should pay for protective equipment and clothing at work. But first here's a round-up of the latest health and safety news.

Three companies have been fined a total of £283,000 after a man was paralysed from the waist down whilst working at a Shell oil refinery in Cheshire. HSE prosecuted three companies after a container carrying 500 kilogrammes of waste materials fell from thirty feet onto worker Stephen Rizzotti. HSE is encouraging farmers to make a promise to come home safe from the fields. The Make the Promise Campaign is aimed at encouraging farmers to take care at work. Agriculture remains one of the most dangerous ways to make a living in Britain, but nearly 15,000 farmers have already signed up and more are now being encouraged to do the same. A care home provider has been fined £100,000 after a disabled teenager died after being lowered into a bath of scalding water. Lifeways Community Care Ltd was also told to pay £45,000 costs after admitting health and safety breaches which led to the death.

For links to these HSE websites and other issues covered in this episode, view the transcript at

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Back in October 2009 we told you about our Asbestos - Hidden Killer Campaign that ran throughout the Autumn. You may have seen our adverts. We watched the advert being made and spoke to three engineering apprentices who were recording their own warning about the risks to young people from asbestos.

Make it approachable to young people especially first. Introduce ourselves, say what we do and how us being young people...

Charlie, Richard and Daisy are working out what to put in their film. They're following production of the HSE's Hidden Killer video.

If it appeals to us its going to appeal to other people.

The three young apprentices from Shell have been asked to try and make the dangers of asbestos more appealing to a younger audience.

So far we've had a bit of a look round the set and seen what its about. Been given a bit of a brief on what the whole point of this movie is, so as far as we understand they're trying to make awareness of asbestos. Right, get it out there and everyone know what its about and we also had the opportunity to interview a HSE inspector so so far that's what we've got up to right now.

What do you think of what you've been doing?

I think there's a lot of interesting facts we found out that we wouldn't know. Its things like facts that asbestos killed more people than road accidents last year. It's one of those things that, it's quite unbelievable because its quite well publicised, road accidents and things like that, but asbestos is kept quite quiet and now that its not used people think that the hazard's not still there but even though its not used anymore, it is still present.

So you're all training to be engineers and you work at Shell so this issue could become relevant to you in the future is that right?

Depending on where we end up working yeah, not everywhere has issues with asbestos, but you could be working anywhere, even at home, work or business and find asbestos or find some that could harm you.

One of the things I know that the HSE's been saying about it is that don't think that it's a so-called 'Grandad's Disease'. That's what they're saying. I mean you're all really young. I mean has doing this made you think that its still a danger for people in certain industries?

Definitely yeah because its not called a silent killer for no reason. It can be something you just come across without even knowing its there sort of thing and you can come across it in your day to day job not realising you've come into contact with it and then years down the line it can affect you severely

And how have you been getting on with the film making. I mean you're filming this so you're never missing an opportunity I can see but how's it been? Have you ever made a film before?

No no we were kind of just thrown into this and you know come on, see how it goes and I've enjoyed it, I think.

Yeah I think we all have.

I think the only issue is that they wanted us to come to put a young person's perspective on things, on how we were viewing it, but a lot of things, especially with the inspector we found it very difficult to put it across in our way because it's a very serious issue so just speaking to them is mainly all you can do, because its one of those things that you can only speak about. Its not as if he can take us and show us asbestos first hand because we're not trained to do that and things like that.

And how can the issue be made more interesting for young people?

I think it is just to see the dangers of it, that's all you can do. It's a very hard subject to tackle because its not as if they can come and bring asbestos into a classroom and say 'oh here you go, have a play with this, its dangerous'. You can't do it. Its just training on it and making sure people do realise, like you said, its not a grandad's disease. It is still in the environment. It is still in buildings. Its still in the workplace and there are the hazards there with it.

So now you're working out what you've got already and how you're going to shape this film. What else have you got to do?

We're going to interview some members of the production company that are filming the horror feature today. We're also going to introduce some of the campaign workers, Charlie and that, and what they do at the HSE to be able to make things like this happen and we've got to decide how we're going to make it sort of available for young people and we're called Young Champions to be able to understand what asbestos is.

And are you going to manage to do this without arguing?

Oh yeah. Hopefully. We'll try. I think the only argument is whose behind the camera and whose in front.

You can read the transcript for this podcast episode at and get more information about the issues discussed in this interview.

The HSE - protecting people's health and safety at work.

Now in our regular feature we put HSE Infoline's Rachel Jones to the test by asking her to answer one of your popular health and safety questions.

Good afternoon, HSE's Infoline, manager speaking, how can I help

Hello, my name is Rachel Jones, I'm here to answer all of your health and safety questions.

Some people at work have to wear protective clothing, say it's a noisy job and they need ear protection. Who has to pay for that. Is that the employee?

No, the actual employer has to pay for that. If they've identified it as something the employee has to have to protect them, then they need to provide it free of charge. Under Section 9 of the Health and Safety at Work Act you can't actually charge an employee for anything provided in the course of health and safety, so legally the employer can't do it.

Do you get quite a lot of calls from people who are being forced to pay for that kind of equipment?

We do get quite a few calls off people, basically I think the main thing people are charged for would be perhaps safety footwear, so we get a lot of callers you know ringing up. They've been charged for footwear and it comes up on their wageslip but we do give them the information then stating the employer has to pay for that, so they take that information back to the employer.

Do you think people get that resolved? I didn't know that all that equipment was meant to be free.

We get a lot of queries saying that people have been charged but not a huge amount of complaints, so generally it seems as though through our channel that the issues are resolved.

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Updated 2012-02-29