IOSH Speak Out About Growing Asbestos Fears
April 4, 2019
It’s been 20 years since the ban on Asbestos in 1999, and experts predict that the fibrous, cancer-causing mineral remains present in a minimum of half a million buildings in the UK constructed before the ’99 ban.
Most often found in insulating boards roofing, spray coatings, cloth, lagging and insulating boards the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) this month reported that organisations are still failing to manage risks associated with Asbestos putting lives in jeopardy.
Asbestos-related deaths are recorded at around 5,000 every year in Britain and through its No Time to Lose campaign, and the IOSH is pushing hard to raise awareness of occupational cancer and some of the common causes; most notably exposure to Asbestos in its many shapes and forms.
The IOSH report what they call a “worrying lack of awareness among tradespeople about asbestos”. Based on a recent survey of 500 tradespeople a quarter said they had been exposed to Asbestos, while a third admitted to never checking the asbestos register when starting on a new site.
The IOSH is doing what they can and shine the spotlight on non-complaint; since 2018, based on recent figures “135 companies or individuals have been ordered to cease work activities because of non-compliance with asbestos regulations, with a further 130 being warned they must improve.”
More severe offences have been met with fines ranging from “£1 to £200,000” according to the IOSH, and it has reported by the IOSH that some directors of errant firms have even been given prison sentences for their non-compliance and the risks they bring on their workforce and the wider public.
Regularly exposure to Asbestos may develop mesothelioma cancer. When Asbestos fragments and breaks fine asbestos dust is created, that is invisible to the human eye. When inhaled or ingested, the tiny Asbestos fibres become lodged in the lining of the internal organs and eventually cause the growth of cancerous cells.
Symptoms of mesothelioma that most commonly present are; chest pain, tightness of the chest, shortness of breath and fluid buildup in the lungs.
A diagnosis for mesothelioma is often coupled with a negative effect on mental health. Once diagnosed, symptoms of anxiety and depression often become apparent, and due to the severity and rarity of mesothelioma, survival rates remain grim.
The IOSH conclude that through good occupational safety and health further cases of mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure are preventable through good occupational health and safety and in a closing statement the IOSH’s chief executive Bev Messinger summed up with a concise and targeted statement;
“It is time for organisations to wake up and realise how dangerous Asbestos is. There are no excuses.”