The United Kingdom’s workplace safety regulator, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), has launched a new campaign to raise awareness of the risks associated with asbestos, aimed at younger workers who may not have been as exposed to safety messages around the material as older generations.
The HSW has launched its new campaign, Asbestos and You, to inform younger workers in trades such as plumbing, electrical work, plastering and joinery. The campaign focuses on younger workers and is aimed at educating those who began their careers after the nationwide asbestos ban was implemented in 1999.
The HSE explained that the latency period for asbestos-related diseases due to workplace exposure could lead to a perception among young workers that it is a condition that only affects older generations. They note that more than 5,000 people per year die from asbestos-related diseases, and many buildings built or refurbished before 2000 may still contain asbestos.
The sheer volume of asbestos products and the broad application of the material prior to the ban means that construction workers across all industries could still be exposed to asbestos fibres in the current day.
HSE’s chief executive Sarah Albon said: “Asbestos exposure in Great Britain is still the single greatest cause of work-related deaths. We are committed to protecting people in the workplace and reducing future work-related ill health.
“Everyone working in construction today, of any age, must take the risk from asbestos seriously.
“Asbestos is dangerous when not maintained in a safe condition or if physically disturbed without the right measures in place to avoid fibres being released into the air.”
HSE’s head of health and work policy, Mike Calcutt, 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 recognise the dangers and take the right actions to protect themselves and those around them from being exposed to asbestos fibres.”