High risk of asbestos exposure for UK construction workers

IOSHLogo

According to a survey by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), “Nearly one in four UK construction workers believe they may have been exposed to asbestos fibres.”

Asbestos has only been banned in the UK since 1999, and the high number of older buildings being demolished or renovated plus the nature of the work they’re involved in, makes the danger for anyone involved in construction very significant.

Are workers in all sectors of construction in danger from asbestos?

Many skilled trades are connected to the construction industry, from demolition and building workers to the plumbers, electricians, and telecoms engineers who are present on-site at different times throughout a construction project.

The extensive reach of asbestos is clear to see, but are all the necessary controls being put in place by construction companies to protect the health of their workers?

Asbestos registers, regular employee training, and asbestos refurbishment and demolition surveys, are just a few of the safeguards that protect employee health, and help to prevent future work-related cancers.

Do construction workers fully understand the risks posed by asbestos?

One of the issues raised by the IOSH research, which surveyed 500 construction workers in the UK, was the lack of awareness of asbestos, and its subsequent danger to health.

Here are some of the most significant findings:

  • Although 59% of those surveyed were aware of asbestos risks and received ongoing training, 15% said they hadn’t been informed of the dangers posed by asbestos
  • 32% of construction workers had never checked an asbestos register prior to a new project commencing, and 15% of these didn’t know that a register existed
  • 18% of respondents said they either didn’t know what to do if they uncovered asbestos at work, or weren’t sure what they should do

These results reveal some major workplace health issues, and highlight the fact that being aware of the dangers of this carcinogenic substance are fundamental to health and safety for construction workers everywhere.

More needs to be done to protect people from asbestos

The President of IOSH, Craig Foyle, commented that greater protection from asbestos is needed, not only for construction workers but also for those in other industries,

“We are calling on everyone, including employers, to do the right thing; to protect the people who work for them. IOSH has an array of resources designed to assist employers put measures in place which protect their workforce.”

The removal and disposal of asbestos can only legally be carried out by licensed contractors, and if the substance is encountered on-site, it must not be disturbed. If you’re involved in a demolition or refurbishment project and need a survey, or would like more information on asbestos, please contact one of our highly trained asbestos consultants.

Neil Munro

I work in a dual role at Acorn Analytical Services focused primarily on growing and leading the business from our Northampton office base. My focus is on overseeing all sales, marketing and financial activities from Northampton. I assist clients with high-level asbestos management strategies and training. Together with Ian Stone I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I'm Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

Need Help? Request a Call Back

Request a call back from one of our expert Asbestos Consultants who will help you identify what you need

More Asbestos Articles

Asbestos can lead to mesothelioma

Death of former MP raises fears over use of asbestos

THE death of a former MP from mesothelioma has brought the problem of asbestos into the headlines once again this week. In December, Alice Mahon, who was the MP for Halifax for 18 years died from mesothelioma, the cancer caused by exposure to asbestos fibres. According to her family, the former MP, who campaigned on … Read more

You need to think carefully about asbestos

Asbestos: Think carefully before signing on the dotted line

A BUILDER who lied to his customers about his asbestos industry credentials has been forced to pay back the thousands of pounds. According to the Environment Agency, Lee Charles used false paperwork to convince customers he was legitimate and had the qualifications necessary to remove asbestos and store it safely. In reality, Charles had no … Read more

Asbestos surveyor

Unveiling the Hidden Dangers: How Hiring a Professional Asbestos Surveyor Could Save Your Business and Property

Could your business be at risk from an invisible threat, hidden within the very structure of your buildings? Understanding the importance of a professional asbestos surveyor could be key to preserving your business operations and the integrity of your properties. Uncovering the hidden dangers of asbestos can protect your employees’ health, save significant costs in … Read more

inexperienced asbestos consultants (Medium)

The Rise of Inexperienced Asbestos Consultants: A Growing Concern

The asbestos industry is facing an alarming issue with the rise of inexperienced asbestos consultants. These individuals, lacking proper accreditation and expertise, are entering the market with only basic P402 qualifications. In this article, we aim to highlight the potential risks and consequences associated with this concerning trend. Understanding P402 Qualification The BOHS P402 qualification, … Read more

The Houses of Parliament are 'riddled' with asbestos

Asbestos: Living with the legacy of the past

THERE is so much asbestos in the Houses of Parliament it would take 300 people two-and-a-half years to remove it completely. That’s the view of members of the Public Accounts Committee who fear that the Parliament buildings are at risk of crumbling unless swift action is taken. In older buildings, asbestos is a common problem … Read more

Mesothelioma - celebrating the work of nurses

Mesothelioma: Celebrating the work of Mesothelioma UK’s nurses

IF you’re a regular reader of our blog, you’ll know that mesothelioma – the cancer caused by exposure to asbestos fibres – is a cause close to all our hearts. Over the years, we’ve worked closely with Mesothelioma UK, the only charity in the UK dedicated to supporting people living with mesothelioma and their families, … Read more

Let your career in the asbestos industry grow with Acorn

Let your career in the asbestos industry grow with Acorn

GIVING young people the opportunities they need to build successful careers in asbestos and health and safety is a big part of the work we do here at Acorn Analytical Services. Having all started off as apprentices and learnt our trade over many years, we pride ourselves on providing the right environment where the next … Read more

Here for you on Safety and Health at Work Day and every day

Here for you on Safety and Health at Work Day – and every day

ASBESTOS is one of the biggest health and safety hazards in the UK contributing to 2,700 deaths from mesothelioma every year. To mark Safety and Health at Work Day we wanted to highlight the range of services Acorn Analytical Services provides to help protect yourself and those around you from his hidden killer. We’ll also … Read more

Asbestos is dominating the headlines once again

Asbestos – silent killer dominating national headlines once again

ASBESTOS has once again dominated the headlines this weekend with The Sunday Times focussing on the stories of real people who have been affected by this hidden killer. Research shows there could be as much as six million tonnes of asbestos contained within 1.5 million buildings in the UK – including 90% of hospitals and … Read more

Construction workers are at a much greater risk of being exposed to the dangers of asbestos

‘Asbestos awareness is crucial for everyone involved in the construction industry’

IF you work in the construction industry chances are you will come into contact with asbestos – perhaps without even realising it. With hundreds of thousands of buildings in the UK still believed to contain this highly dangerous material, even something as simple as drilling a hole could leave you vulnerable to exposure, and at … Read more