Unmasking the Truth: Is Asbestos An Issue for UK Employers in 2023?

asbestos an issue

Is asbestos an issue for employers today, even a decade after regulations tightened? The answer, shockingly, remains a resounding yes. It’s easy to dismiss asbestos as a problem of the past, but the reality is that the spectre of asbestos still haunts many workplaces in the UK in 2023.

Asbestos – A Lingering Threat

Even in 2023, a significant number of people in the UK are astounded to learn that asbestos is an issue that hasn’t been entirely eradicated. Despite the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 being in force for over a decade, the danger persists.

The latest data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) paints a grim picture. Currently, there are around 4,759 deaths annually due to various asbestos-related diseases. This figure has increased since 2013, and alarmingly, it is still expected to rise further! So, if you find yourself asking “is asbestos an issue?” – it certainly is!

Understanding the Risk – Why is Asbestos an Issue?

The problem with asbestos arises when it’s disturbed or damaged. Asbestos, if undisturbed and in good condition, isn’t a hazard. However, once disturbed, tiny strands of asbestos can split into microscopic fibres that become airborne and easily inhaled. These microscopic fibres bypass the body’s respiratory defenses and lodge themselves in the lungs, causing a variety of severe health conditions.

Asbestos fibres’ ability to split into microscopic strands and become airborne is a unique property of asbestos. This, combined with the serious health risks it poses, is why asbestos is still a significant issue that employers need to address.

The Deadly Legacy of Asbestos

The materials that contain asbestos have been widely used in a variety of industries, making it a pervasive issue. Asbestos has been found in insulation materials, floor tiles, and even textured paints. Its widespread use and longevity mean that asbestos can be found in older buildings and materials, making its removal a complex and hazardous task.

Who is at Risk?

The people at the highest risk from asbestos exposure are those who work with materials that might contain asbestos. These occupations include:

  1. General maintenance staff
  2. Electricians, plumbers, and gas fitters
  3. Painters, decorators, joiners, and plasterers
  4. Construction and demolition workers
  5. Roofing contractors
  6. Heating, ventilation, and telecommunication engineers
  7. Fire and burglar alarm installers
  8. Architects and building surveyors
  9. Shopfitters

While these trades face the highest risk, is asbestos an issue for the everyday occupants of buildings? Yes, because it’s estimated that between 1.5 million to 2 million commercial and industrial buildings in the UK still contain asbestos. Shockingly, even domestic premises are not safe, with an estimated 2.4 million homes suspected to contain asbestos.

The Role of Employers – Preventing Asbestos Exposure

The question of “is asbestos an issue for employers?” is unequivocally answered with a yes. As an employer in the UK, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your workers are safe from asbestos exposure.

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 states that

“Every employer must ensure that any employee employed by that employer is given adequate information, instruction and training”

asbestos an issue

The goal of such training is to prevent accidental disturbance and subsequent exposure to airborne asbestos fibres.

Asbestos Awareness Training should cover

  1. Understanding what asbestos is
  2. Identifying common uses and products that contain asbestos
  3. Recognising the hazards associated with asbestos
  4. Knowledge of health effects attributed to asbestos
  5. Recognising who is at risk
  6. Understanding emergency procedures
  7. Overview of asbestos regulations and management

Taking a proactive approach to asbestos awareness training can drastically reduce the risk and answer the pressing question – “is asbestos an issue that can be managed effectively?”

Asbestos Awareness – Making a Change

Awareness is the first step towards creating a safer working environment. Regular asbestos training is an effective way to promote awareness and maintain safety standards in the workplace.

We provide comprehensive UKATA asbestos awareness training to equip workers with the necessary knowledge and skills to handle and manage asbestos-related risks safely. If you need assistance or wish to book a training course, please contact us today. Let’s take proactive steps together to make sure that the question “Is asbestos an issue?” is something future generations won’t have to ask.

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