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Shipbuilders and tradespeople most likely to be at risk of exposure to asbestos

A report in the Burton Mail has underlined the importance of Asbestos Awareness training for employed and self-employed people in the trades.

Their report described how Andrew Cox was potentially exposed to asbestos throughout most of his working life as an insulation fitter. He “cut up asbestos with a hacksaw” during his time working at power stations around the country, and prior to that worked on HMS London.

This regular exposure to asbestos caused severe scar tissue damage to his lungs, and his death has been attributed to ‘asbestos-induced lung scarring.’

Although Mr Cox’s exposure to asbestos was historic, the dangers remain today. It can take several decades for the features of asbestos-related disease to materialise, and concerns have recently been raised about the number of schools in the UK that still harbour asbestos.

HSE asbestos awareness campaign

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the body responsible for enforcing health and safety in the UK workplace. Attempting to raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos, they started a new campaign in 2014 called ‘Every Job Beware Asbestos.’

The scale of the problem was revealed in a report commissioned by them which stated that tradespeople could come into contact with asbestos in its various forms over 100 times each year, on average.

HSE Chief Inspector for Construction, Philip White, commented:

“Asbestos is still a very real danger and the survey findings suggest that the people who come into contact with it regularly often don’t know where it could be and worryingly don’t know how to deal with it correctly, which could put them in harm’s way.”

Shipbuilding industry workers at risk

Widespread use of asbestos in the shipbuilding industry meant that Andrew Cox’s exposure could have started in his first job – working ‘in the bowels’ of HMS London. Asbestos was commonly found in the sleeping quarters, engine and boiler rooms, and also in the walls, floors and ceilings of the galley area of ships built before the 1980s.

Maintenance and repair of ships pre-1980s posed a significant risk to workers, with airborne asbestos fibres potentially being released into a relatively small space.

Asbestos Awareness courses can now be taken online

Although classroom-based Category A courses are available, by Asbestos awareness course you benefit from being able to study at your own pace whenever is convenient, whether at home or in the workplace.

‘Category A’ is another name for Asbestos Awareness training, which gives people an understanding of why the substance should be left alone if uncovered. Disturbing asbestos could release thousands of dangerous fibres, plus dust, into the atmosphere, endangering the health of everyone in the surrounding area.

Knowing what asbestos looks like in its various forms, as well as understanding exactly why it should be left undisturbed, are two of the main course features. Further training is available for those who are involved in the removal of asbestos, once it has been discovered.