New asbestos eradication law to cut mesothelioma death toll called for by Unite

The call to action was made at a conference in London to mark Mesothelioma Action Day.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Sixteen years after asbestos was banned in the UK, exposure to asbestos, which causes the incurable disease mesothelioma, remains ‘an ever present danger’.”

“There is no room for complacency by government and companies about the threat from asbestos.”

Gail Cartmail, Unite assistant general secretary

White doves in memory of those that have died from mesothelioma were released outside Farringdon tube near the Crossrail site.

Already nearly 13,500 members of Unite, who believe they have been exposed to asbestos have joined the union’s asbestos register as part of the campaign to raise awareness about the silent killer.

Gail Cartmail told delegates: “There is no room for complacency by government and companies about the threat from asbestos. “

Past exposure to asbestos as a result of corporate negligence kills around 5,000 people a year, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The true figure is likely to be much higher, and, we believe, is on the rise “In the UK alone, we have already witnessed the tragedy of 60,000 deaths from mesothelioma and a further 90,000 people are expected to die from the effects of past asbestos exposure.

“We need a new asbestos eradication law requiring the safe, planned removal of all the asbestos that still remains in place across Britain - including a register of all properties which contain asbestos.

“This must be backed by an inspection and enforcement programme by health and safety bodies. such as the HSE, which must be properly resourced by the government. “

Asbestos use was finally banned from the UK in 1999, but is still in many buildings built or refurbished before 2000 and still presents a danger to workers in many workplaces – at least 500,000 non-domestic premises and probably around a million domestic premises.

“Construction workers and maintenance workers, such as electricians, are the most at risk. But so are workers in schools, factories, hospitals, public buildings and offices, if asbestos is present and those working in domestic premises. Children risk being exposed in schools.

“The only way to remove the danger and protect future generations is to eradicate asbestos from all workplaces.”

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Source: UNISON

Post date: 15 Jul 2015

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