A study by the Department of Respiratory Medicine at London’s Royal Derby Hospital has revealed a slow rise in the number of Mesothelioma cases between 2008 and 2012, with a prediction that cases will continue rising until 2020.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs, a major cause of which is exposure to asbestos. The study reported 1,310 cases in 2008, and a total of 1,885 in 2012. The use of asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999, but as the effects of exposure can take decades to materialise, the number of cases continues to increase unabated.
Researchers have suggested that these figures represent only 80% of the actual number of cases, many of which remain unreported. The issue of asbestos awareness is hugely important, not only for tradespeople, but also for those residing or working in a building constructed prior to 2000.
HSE Asbestos Awareness training
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) offer guidance on the types and level of training required by employed people working in the trades. Employers are legally obliged to offer Category ‘A’ training if their workers could come across asbestos during their ordinary line of work.
Category ‘A’ is also known as Asbestos Awareness training, and involves making the candidate aware of the likely locations of asbestos within a building, and what to do if they uncover it, i.e. leave it undisturbed.
Calling in contractors licensed to deal with the substance ensures everyone’s safety, with many companies being fined heavily for ignoring this requirement.
Treatment of Mesothelioma criticised in report
A lack of specialist centres to treat Mesothelioma in the UK has been highlighted during the research by the Royal Derby Hospital. Dr Paul Beckett, lead researcher, was quoted as saying:
“We recognize a nihilism in the management of mesothelioma here ……. Our hope is that by highlighting good practice, we can encourage organizations to be more aggressive in their investigation and treatment of patients.”
The study reported an average survival time for sufferers of 9.2 months in 2008, and 10.5 months in 2012.
Prevention is the way forward
Preventing this disease in the first place should be the goal for the UK government. It is thought that 75% of schools in this country contain asbestos, and several campaign groups have been set up to raise awareness of the presence of asbestos.
With so many UK schools being built before 2000, asbestos has been found in classroom walls and ceilings, boiler areas and floor tiles. Michael Lees is a member of campaign group, Asbestos in Schools. His wife Gina died from Mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos as a teacher.
Mr Lees commented to Daybreak that:
“You are aware that asbestos exists, but you are certainly not aware of the dangers, and the fact that just the simple act of going to school, you can die of an industrial disease.”
Asbestos awareness is vital in preventing exposure, and ultimately in preventing this dreadful disease. Our courses are recognised by UKATA and can be taken online.