The importance of Asbestos Awareness training is highlighted each time a case of Mesothelioma is diagnosed. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer commonly caused by exposure to asbestos dust and fibres.
The dangers of asbestos have been widely reported in recent years due to the increasing number of deaths caused by exposure to the substance. Although in many instances deaths have followed a lifetime’s work in an ‘at-risk’ trade such as building or plumbing, there have been several recent reports of people in their 40s and 50s being affected.
One such case is that of Mark Piper who worked for a construction firm. Between 1998 and 2011 Mr Piper was involved in the removal of asbestos downpipes and guttering from old commercial buildings. It has been reported that he inhaled the asbestos dust and fibres that were released as a result.
Mr Piper has instructed a firm of solicitors to investigate his case, saying:
“I was never given any training on the correct way to handle asbestos and avoid exposure or provided with any protective equipment to prevent me from being exposed to the substance.”
Teachers also at risk from asbestos in schools
As we’ve highlighted previously, several cases of Mesothelioma have been diagnosed within the teaching profession. Asbestos was widely used in the construction of schools during the 1960s and 1970s, with asbestos insulation boards often used in the walls on which children’s artwork was displayed.
Sixty year old art teacher, Jennifer Barnett, used drawing pins to attach pictures created by the children, to the walls and ceilings in her school. Having been exposed to asbestos in this way, she died 14 months after being diagnosed with malignant Mesothelioma in 2013.
Michael Lees, husband of another Mesothelioma victim, and founder of the Asbestos in Schools campaign group, believes that 6,000 asbestos fibres are released each time a drawing pin is used on old asbestos insulation boards.
Mr Lees was quoted in the International Business Times as saying:
“The Asbestos Installation Boards (AIBs) are so deteriorated with age it’s therefore likely normal classroom activities can still release asbestos fibres that thousands can still be exposed to, so long as this material is accessible to children.”
HSE Asbestos Awareness training courses
An awareness of asbestos needs to be ensured, not only for tradespeople and those in the ‘front line,’ but also for people like Jennifer Barnett and Gina Lees who unknowingly endangered themselves during each working day.
Asbestos Awareness training can be taken online. Courses describe the appearance of asbestos, in what form it might be seen, where it could be lying, and how to prevent exposure.
Knowing that it should be avoided is a large part of staying safe. Licensed contractors with specific training on how to deal with asbestos need to be called in to provide guidance, and remove it safely if appropriate.
Asbestos Awareness e-learning courses are popular because of the ease with which learning takes place – you simply fit it into your day whenever you can.