Chelmsford TUC

In Your Workplace

Asbestos

Between 1997 and 2001 18,000 people have died in the UK as a result of working with asbestos. This equates to twelve every day and is more than the 14,000 killed on the roads.

The TUC has launched an Asbestos Awareness Campaign and has called for a global ban on asbestos. Bans are now common in Europe, and are beginning to spread to countries such as Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Australia, but the deadly substance is still mined in Canada, Russia and Zimbabwe.

The TUC also called for a public register of the asbestos, which still exists in so many buildings in the UK, to enable workers and tenants to find out easily and reliably whether properties contain asbestos. It has also called for more help for sufferers, including full and fair compensation, even where the insurance company involved has collapsed.

There are three commonly used types of asbestos: White Asbestos (Chrysotile), Blue Asbestos (Crocidolite) and Brown Asbestos (Amosite). The use of all these are now banned in the UK although many buildings still have considerable quantities. These could be in such areas as lining materials to improve fire resistance, insulation boards, lagging, fire blankets, roof tiles, gutters, ironing board pads, heaters, ceiling panels, underfloor ducting.

As long as the surfaces of asbestos products are properly sealed they should be safe. It is when fibres are released through deterioration or damage that the substance becomes dangerous. If you suspect the presence of asbestos in your workplace report it to your Health and Safety Representative immediately.

A new ’Action Mesothelioma Charter’ from the British Lung Foundation (BLF) is calling for urgent measures to give more rights to people with the fatal asbestos cancer mesothelioma and for the government to make the issue a top public health priority. The organisation says that every five hours someone in the UK dies from mesothelioma. Its online petition demands an improvement in services for patients and families, including better treatment, support and legal advice.

The charter calls for the government to make mesothelioma a national priority of its cancer ’tzar’. It says government must also fund better research on diagnosis and treatment. It must also ’ensure the Health and Safety Executive vigorously enforce existing regulations on asbestos.’ The charter adds that employers must prevent further exposures to asbestos and should work with unions and others to ensure regulations are properly observed.

TUC Working with Asbestos Guide

This guide explains how working with asbestos can affect you and others at work. It explains the employer’s responsibilities and outlines what help is available to employees.