Asbestos alert for Northumberland workers
Published Date: 30 October 2008
The Health and Safety Executive has
warned tradesmen in Northumberland to be aware of asbestos and the risk of
contracting mesothelioma, often associated with asbestos exposure, after figures
showed that between 1981 and 2005, 167 people from the area died of the
Twenty six of those deaths were in the
Borough of Castle Morpeth.
The statistics were revealed by the HSE as
part of it's latest campaign - Asbestos: The Hidden Killer - which is running
until mid November and aims to reduce the rising death rate by educating today's tradesmen about the dangers
that asbestos poses.
Between 1981-2005, the HSE figures showed that more
than 2,300 people died of mesothelioma in the North East.
Northumberland, Blyth Valley had the highest mortality rate from the disease
with 58 deaths. There were 33 deaths in Tynedale and 26 in Castle Morpeth.
In addition, there were 25 deaths in Wansbeck, 15 in Alnwick and 12 in
Berwick upon Tweed.
North East HSE Principal Inspector, Chris Gillies
said: "We need to educate tradesmen about how asbestos and its dangers are
relevant to them. We want them to change the way they work so that they don't
put their lives at risk."
Mr Gillies explained why a major campaign has
been launched to raise awareness of the real risk that tradesmen face.
said: "Exposure to asbestos is the biggest single cause of work-related deaths,
with around 4,000 people a year dying from asbestos-related disease. The overall
number of deaths is rising because a large number of workers who have already
been exposed to asbestos dust around 40 years ago will go on to develop
mesothelioma, a terminal cancer or other asbestos related
Annually, 1,000 of the 4,000 now dying each year are tradesmen
and while the number of deaths in traditional industries has plateaued, deaths
in trades continue to rise.
"The HSE campaign is vital because research
shows that only one in ten tradesmen know that exposure to asbestos can prove
fatal," said Jill Morrell, Head of Public Affairs at the British Lung
"The asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma is a cruel disease
which as yet has no cure. We must do all we can to prevent more people dying
from this preventable disease."
Many workers, particularly tradesmen,
think that they are not personally at risk of exposure to asbestos and the
diseases it can cause. They think that since asbestos was banned many years ago,
the problem has been dealt with and therefore it is not relevant to them. The
reality is very different.
Even today asbestos presents a real and
relevant risk to plumbers, joiners, electricians and many other maintenance
workers. Asbestos may be present in any building constructed or refurbished
before the year 2000, and it is estimated that around 500,000 non-domestic
buildings could contain asbestos. These buildings all need repair and
maintenance work from time to time and when the asbestos fibres are disturbed
e.g. by drilling or cutting, they are likely to be inhaled as a deadly
If asbestos-containing material is in good condition and in a
position where it cannot be disturbed or damaged, it is safer to leave it where
it is and ensure that the risks are managed. Those responsible for managing
building maintenance and repair of non-domestic buildings, have a duty to inform
tradesmen if asbestos is present in a building they are working
Depending on the type of asbestos-containing material, and providing
they have been trained and the proper controls are in place, they may be able to
work on the project. Asbestos sprayed coatings, board or lagging on pipes and
boilers - should only be tackled by licensed workers.
Posters and radio
adverts will encourage tradesmen to get a free asbestos information pack by
calling 0845 345 0055 or by visiting www.hse.gov.uk/hiddenkiller for further
information. The free information pack provides information on the dangers of
asbestos, highlighting where asbestos-containing materials may be present in
buildings, what they look like, how they should be dealt with and where to find
The full article contains 693 words and
appears in n/a newspaper.
- Last Updated: 30 October 2008 12:37 PM
- Source: n/a
- Location: Morpeth