HSE research shows 20 tradesmen per week die from asbestos-related diseases

Asbestos related disease is the UK's biggest single cause of work related deaths, accounting for around 4,000 deaths a year. While the importation, supply and use of asbestos is now largely prohibited, it is estimated to still be present in 500,000 non-domestic buildings.

Every week twenty tradesmen die from asbestos-related disease. If you are an electrician, plumber, heating and ventilation engineer, joiner, plasterer or work in any similar trade, you are likely to come across this hidden killer in your work - asbestos dust could kill you.

A lot of buildings still contain asbestos materials - anywhere built or refurbished before the year 2000 is likely to contain asbestos and it is often in places where you can't see it easily.

You could be working where asbestos is present right now.

So before you start work on anywhere built before the year 2000, check that:

  • You are not working on asbestos-containing products.
  • For domestic premises, your boss has told you where asbestos can be found on site.
  • For non-domestic premises, you have seen the asbestos register.
  • Remember that if any asbestos product is in good condition, it should be left in place and not disturbed. High hazard asbestos products (ie sprayed coating, lagging, insulation and AIB) should only be worked on by a licensed contractor unless the work is of very short duration, and you have been trained.

If you need to work with asbestos, make sure that you:

  • Are fully trained to work with asbestos and that you have the right equipment.
  • Are sure what is and is not asbestos, STOP and seek advice if you aren't.
  • Minimise dust while you work and use hand tools instead of power tools.
  • Keep materials damp, but not too wet.
  • Wear a properly fitted, suitable respirator (eg FFP3 type).
  • Don't smoke, eat or drink in the work area.
  • Clean up as you go using a special vacuum cleaner (class H), not a brush.
  • Double bag and label asbestos then dispose of it at an appropriate waste site.
  • Don't carry asbestos into your car or home. Wear suitable disposable overalls (Type 5) and boots without laces.
  • Don't take overalls home to wash; they should be disposable and bagged in special asbestos waste bags after use.
  • Decontaminate yourself after finishing work, wipe down your overalls with a damp rag and remove them before removing your mask.

Remember, stay safe, use appropriate PPE for the job.

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