According to the Edinburgh Evening News, during the last seven years, local councils in the Edinburgh area have paid out around £700,000 to council workers who have been the victims of asbestos exposure.
The Edinburgh Evening News has also reported that the biggest single asbestos compensation settlement made by the local authority – £325,000 – was paid last year. A large project to remove asbestos from buildings in the area took place in 2004, with schools and council buildings being included.
The council was fined in 2009 when it was discovered that ten council employees had been exposed to asbestos dust in a local school. Professor John Cherrie, who is professor of human health at Edinburgh’s Herriot Watt University, said:
“In the worst case – of someone exposed to atrocious working conditions – we can predict they have around a one-in-ten chance of developing asbestos-related disease.”
Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases
Mesothelioma is an aggressive type of lung cancer, attributed to asbestos exposure. The number of deaths from Mesothelioma in Great Britain during 2013 has been recorded at 2,538, according to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics.
The HSE also states that nine hundred new cases of asbestosis were assessed for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit in 2013; with an estimated figure of around 2,000 deaths from asbestos-related lung cancer being provided by the health and safety body.
So how can modern-day exposure to asbestos be prevented?
Asbestos awareness for tradespeople and other workers
Being aware of the dangers presented by asbestos protects tradespeople from deadly dust and fibres. In the past, the potential health problems caused by asbestos were either not widely known, or not communicated sufficiently to workers.
The shipbuilding and construction industries carry a heavy death toll, with many of these workers suffering from historic exposure on a regular basis. Nowadays, asbestos awareness is greater, but the implications of the continued presence of asbestos in buildings constructed after its ban in 1999, may not be well-known.
Asbestos training courses to increase awareness
Online training courses are widely available, and provision of this type of training is now a legal obligation for employers in the UK if their workers are likely to encounter the substance during a normal working day.
UKATA online training covers all the aspects required to know how to recognise asbestos-containing materials, and how to avoid or deal with them safely. At the end of each course candidates receive an asbestos certificate, which proves that their knowledge is up-to-date. The certificate is valid for 12 months.
Employers also meet their obligations
Using this type of asbestos training for their workers is a straightforward way to meet employer obligations under HSE legislation. Learning online is flexible, and there is a short quiz at the end of each section to test candidates’ understanding of the course content.
On successful completion of a longer quiz at the end of the course, the certificate is made available for download. This type of training is suitable for anyone likely to come into contact with asbestos, including plumbers, electricians, surveyors, architects, and heating engineers.