UK: One in Four Construction Workers Exposed to Asbestos

In a damning survey published by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, nearly one in four British construction workers say they believe they've been exposed to deadly asbestos fibres. The startling statistic is just one of many concerning findings in the report, which seems to suggest the UK has a lot of work to do in asbestos education and training.

Only 59 percent of workers said they have been informed about the risks of working with asbestos and that this been reinforced regularly with training.  15 percent said they have never been informed. On top of this, a third of construction workers have never checked the asbestos register before starting work on a new site.

But perhaps most concerning, a shocking 18 percent of workers said they would have no idea what to do if they found asbestos on the job.

IOSH president Craig Foyle said the survey results were "unacceptable", and that not enough is being done to protect the nation's construction workers.

“Asbestos is banned in the UK and other countries for a good reason: it is dangers. It is staggering to see how many people die from exposure to asbestos every year. It is unacceptable, therefore, for anyone in any workplace to be exposed to asbestos. Clearly, though, people are being exposed to it. In the decades to come, it is likely that these people and their families will still be suffering unless we all do something about it."

“We are calling on everyone, including employers, do to the right thing; to protect the people who work for them. IOSH has an array of resources designed to assist employers to put measures in place, which protect their workforce.”

The chair of the UK’s Industrial Injuries Advisory Council, Dr Lesley Rushton, said the new survey results confirm that, while people have heard of asbestos and know what the effects of being exposed to it are, they’re "not sure how to check if it’s present and they may now know what to do if they find asbestos."

“Uncertainty and ignorance surrounding how to prevent workers from breathing in the fibres is deeply worrying.”


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