According to a new report from the Health and Safety Executive new report from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), deaths from mesothelioma stayed at record levels for the second year running.
The updated figures show that there were 2,538 mesothelioma deaths in Great Britain in 2013, broadly similar to the 2,548 in 2012, but substantially higher than the 2,312 deaths in 2011.
Mesothelioma, a type of cancer which is heavily associated with exposure to asbestos is causing more deaths than ever before. Owing to the disease's occupational causes and long latency period, many of the deaths are concentrated among retirees from the construction industry.
Estimates suggest that approximately 85% of male mesotheliomas are caused directly by occupational exposure to asbestos. Those most at risk of contracting the disease are those who have previously worked as carpenters, plumbers and electricians.
Predictions sketched out in the HSE report suggested that annual mesothelioma deaths would level out and peak around the year 2020 before beginning to fall. But asbestos and mesothelioma continues to pose a risk both to those still working in construction, as well as members of the public.
Asbestos was a popular construction material up until the 1980s when the health risks associated with it became clearer. Although asbestos is now banned, large quantities of it remain hidden in unlikely places such as in ceiling tiles, boilers, lofts and guttering. If disturbed and inhaled, asbestos fibres can still be fatal.
Health and Safety Legislation
Legislation which governs workplace safety states that the person or persons responsible for the maintenance of a non-domestic premises has a ‘duty to manage’ any asbestos.
Accordingly, building owners/managers or an organisation commissioning any onsite work (particularly construction work) takes ultimate responsibility for protecting workers from the hidden dangers of asbestos.
These ‘duty holders’ have a series of responsibilities which must be carried out. These include: actively monitoring any asbestos in the building, completing risk assessments, drawing up an asbestos management plans, ensuring that staff have the pre-requisite asbestos training and managing risks down the supply chain.
Are your suppliers using asbestos?
If your unsure whether your company or supply chain is still at risk from asbestos, then now is the time to act. We understand that managing logistics, procurement, information security and myriad of other requirements means things such as safety and compliance is the last thing you want to think about.
Compliance, however, can help you achieve a more comprehensive, reliable and performance-driven supply chain. To find out more, download our free best practice guide today.
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