Although the import, supply and use of all forms of asbestos has been banned for a long time, a high number of tradespeople are still at risk from exposure to asbestos. Any building built before the year 2000, both residential and industrial, may still contain asbestos-containing materials that could be disturbed by tradespeople carrying out work.
Exposure to asbestos is associated with the following diseases: mesothelioma, lung, larynx and stomach cancers, as well as asbestosis and pleural thickening, resulting in around 5000 deaths each year. Many of these deaths are due to past exposure to asbestos; however, asbestos is still a risk today.
The following initiatives have been developed to raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos amongst tradespeople:
- HSE's Beware Asbestos campaign launched in October 2014. The campaign aims to raise awareness and help tradespeople protect themselves from the dangers of asbestos. The campaign includes some useful reference cards and a FREE Beware Asbestos Web app that can help tradespeople to identify if asbestos is likely to be in their workplace. It gives them practical advice on how to protect themselves from the dangers, and advises them on when and how to get experts involved.
- For further information on occupational diseases, and other initiatives please register on the Occupational Disease community site.
Further information on exposure to asbestos in the workplace is available on HSE's asbestos web pages.