Every year 4000 people die of asbestos which is more than those in road traffic accidents. In Great Britain we are in the middle of an epidemic and it is expected that asbestos deaths will to peak to nearly 5000 which is a legacy from years gone by.
As part of the going asbestos awareness raising campaign and to mark National Action Mesothelioma Day, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is today launching a web video, "Asbestos the hidden killer" featuring Tom King a carpenter by trade, who has been diagnosed with the terminal lung cancer, mesothelioma. The video can be viewed at www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/index.htm
Recent research conducted by HSE shows that young tradesmen, such as plumbers and electricians, know that asbestos is dangerous but just don’t believe that they are personally at risk. This campaign reminds tradesmen that unless they take precautions asbestos could kill them too.
Instead of enjoying his retirement now, Tom said of his condition mesothelioma, "It’s taken away 85% of what I do, my life has been cut short. If I had known of the dangers of the asbestos when I was younger I would have taken the right precautions. If I’m very lucky I’ll say I’ve got three years left, but it may just be a year."
Commenting on HSE’s ongoing asbestos awareness raising campaign, Judith Hackitt, Chair of the Health and Safety Commission said, "Every week twenty tradesmen die simply because they have breathed in asbestos fibres during the course of their work. The problem today is that we associate it with a problem that’s been and gone because asbestos is now banned. We regard asbestos as something a previous generation were exposed to.
There is a real risk that the younger generation entering the workforce today will think this does not apply to them but it does. If they work on any building built or refurbished before the year 2000 it could well contain asbestos."