A new asbestos safety campaign was launched in October 2014 by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), who have provided a downloadable web app for smart phones, tablets and laptops. The app gives access to valuable safety information for tradespeople likely to come into contact with asbestos, including painters and decorators, carpenters, and construction workers.
HSE commissioned Censuswide to carry out a survey of 500 British tradespeople, with results revealing that on average, workers could potentially be exposed to asbestos more than 100 times each year.
Responses to the survey questions demonstrated a general lack of knowledge surrounding asbestos. Only 30% of the people questioned could identify all the correct safety precautions and procedures, and 57% made at least one mistake that could potentially have proven lethal in their attempts to stay safe.
Common myths about asbestos safety include thinking that:
- drinking a glass of water will provide some protection (14% thought it would)
- opening a window will help to avoid the effects of asbestos (27% believed this myth)
Minister for Health and Safety, Mark Harper, said,
Despite being banned in the construction industry, asbestos exposure remains a very serious risk to tradespeople.
The survey also revealed a lack of awareness regarding when asbestos became an illegal material in the building industry. Eighty-five per cent of those asked did not realise that asbestos could be used in the construction of buildings right up until 2000.
According to HSE, on average 20 tradespeople die each week from diseases related to asbestos, so by downloading the app from the HSE website, at-risk groups can help to protect themselves and spread the word to friends and colleagues.
Not only does the app identify areas where asbestos could be hiding, customised information and advice is provided for each scenario. Tradespeople can refer to it as they carry out their work, knowing that relevant information is literally at hand.