Asbestos issues are experienced globally

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The danger posed by asbestos is a global issue, and despite the fact that the substance is banned in over 50 countries, people around the world are still suffering the adverse effects of exposure to the substance.

The overuse and misuse of asbestos in past decades has resulted in thousands of victims suffering from long-term and incurable diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and asbestos-related lung cancer.

United States

A school in California has recently opened again following the discovery of asbestos in the ceiling of the building almost a year ago. The children were sent to schools further away, along with students from two other elementary schools in the area.

The substance is not banned completely in America, and is still used in roofing materials and numerous household products. There have been widespread calls for its total ban, however, and the Ban Asbestos in America Act of 2007 has passed through the Senate. All that is required now is for the Act to be approved by the White House.

Australia

In Canberra, the infamous Mr Fluffy asbestos crisis has resulted in thousands of homes being included in a government buy-back scheme. The properties are to be demolished after it was discovered that loose-fill asbestos had been used as insulation within the homes during the 1960s and 1970s when they were first built.

Asbestos was pumped into the homes with no thought to the dangers it presented to householders. In fact, sacks of asbestos fibre are also thought to have been sold to homeowners at the time, so that they could insulate their own properties. Now, more than 1,000 houses are to be demolished and the land redeveloped.

Italy

In Italy, 11 former managers at Pirelli were found guilty of the manslaughter of around 20 workers at their tyre factory in Milan. The workers were exposed to asbestos between 1979 and 1989, and all died from lung disease or tumours apparently linked to the substance.

Sentences of over seven years were handed down by the court, for failing to adequately protect the Pirelli workers against the dangers of asbestos. According to the Italian press, some families had agreed financial settlements out-of-court, but compensation for damages exceeding €500,000 was ordered by the court for one bereaved family and other parties.

UKATA online training

Asbestos training courses cover everything you need to know to stay safe as an employed or self-employed tradesperson. You can take an asbestos awareness course online. It only takes around 90 minutes to complete, and if you are successful you can download your HSE asbestos certificate straight away.

The UK Asbestos Training Association (UKATA) is the body responsible for setting training standards, and reviews the course content of training providers regularly to ensure it is up-to-date. The Health and Safety Executive recommend further training is undertaken once the initial 12-month period is over, but this could be more informal – during a general health and safety meeting, for example.