HSE launches new asbestos safety campaign

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The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a new campaign to help tradespeople at risk from the dangers of asbestos exposure.

A recent survey commissioned by HSE identified that tradespeople could come into contact with deadly asbestos on average more than 100 times a year. A worrying number did not know when they may actually face the danger, as only 15 per cent of those surveyed knew asbestos could still be found in buildings built up to the year 2000.

The survey also revealed some common myths believed by those at risk, with 1 in seven (14 per cent) believing that drinking a glass of water will help protect them from the deadly dust and one in four (27 per cent) thinking that opening a window will help to keep them safe.

The Beware Asbestos campaign aims to raise awareness of the real and current risks facing today’s tradespeople. It also seeks to help them work more safely when doing jobs that might disturb asbestos, to help protect them from harm.

The campaign has seen the launch of a new, free web app to help tradespeople easily identify where they could come into contact with asbestos as they go about their day-to-day work.
The web app leads tradespeople through a list of simple multiple-choice questions about the type of building they are working in, the job that they’re doing, and the type of asbestos containing material they are working on.

Depending on their answers, they will be:

– told to stop work and get a licensed asbestos contractor if the asbestos risk is too high

– taken to a simple how-to guide giving them easy to follow step-by-step information for small, non-licensed tasks

– told if there is no asbestos risk and so they are safe to continue work
The web app also directs the user to HSE’s new asbestos pages for tradespeople, where they can find additional guidance on training requirements and further asbestos information at www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/tradesperson.htm

Philip White, HSE’s Chief Inspector for Construction, said:

“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. Our new campaign aims to help tradespeople understand some of the simple steps they can take to stay safe.?