Latest figures released for deaths from asbestos-related cancer

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This month the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has released its Mesothelioma statistics for Great Britain, 2021 report.

The report reveals the number of deaths attributed to the asbestos-related cancer during 2019 and makes for interesting reading.

Mesothelioma has a strong association with exposure to asbestos and current evidence suggests around 85% of all male mesotheliomas are attributable to asbestos exposures that occurred in the workplace.

Men who worked in the building industry when asbestos was used extensively between 1950 and 1980 continue to be most at risk of mesothelioma. This is because this particular form of cancer takes many years to develop following the inhalation of asbestos fibres, Tragically, once symptoms appear it is usually rapidly fatal – often within 12 months.

Due to the widespread industrial use of asbestos between 1950 and 1980, annual mesothelioma deaths in Great Britain have increased year-on-year over the last 50 years, with nearly 10 times as many deaths in the most recent decade, 2010 to 2019, compared with 1970 to 1979.

According to the HSE’s latest report, there were 2,369 mesothelioma deaths in Great Britain in 2019. This is clearly distressing news however this figure is 7% lower than the annual average number of 2,540 over the period 2012 to 2018.

In total there were 1,945 male deaths in 2019 – again this is 9% lower than the annual average number of 2,130 for males over the period 2012 to 2018. Deaths among females remained at a similar level to the last few years with 424 in 2019.

Due to the fact mesothelioma takes many years to develop, more than half of annual deaths now occur in those aged over 75 years. Indeed, annual deaths in this age group continue to increase while deaths below age 70 are now decreasing.

Whilst it is awful to see that thousands of people are continuing to die because of asbestos every year it is heartening to see that, overall, the figures are starting to decrease. This is evidence that the ban on the use of asbestos in this country is beginning to have an impact and that fewer people are being put at risk today.

So, does this mean that we can begin to drop our guard when it comes to asbestos? Sadly, not. Although we are one of the countries that no longer uses asbestos, we have a worrying asbestos legacy in this country. Basically, any building which was erected before 2000 may contain asbestos. You can even find it in historic buildings, erected long before the use of asbestos was widespread in this country, in newer extensions, fire doors or insulating materials that have been added to them.

Our team at Acorn Analytical Services works with a wide variety of organisations, including the NHS, local authorities, schools, universities and businesses, to help them safely manage the presence of asbestos in their buildings. However, we are still regularly called out to deal with incidents elsewhere where construction or maintenance work has disturbed existing asbestos and potentially put people at risk.

We need these types of incidents to stop happening if we want to see the numbers of mesothelioma deaths continue to fall in the future.

This is why – alongside our day-to-day asbestos management work – we spend a lot of time and effort trying to educate the business community and the wider public about the dangers of asbestos.

Anyone who needs advice on the subject need only listen to our regular Asbestos Knowledge Empire podcasts, read our regular blogs or request a free copy of our book, Asbestos The Dark Arts.

We also offer a free 30-minute asbestos review surgery via video call to help people find out what they need to do to make sure they are keeping people safe and complying with asbestos laws.

We’ve also created the only fully documented and systemised asbestos management process in the UK called the Acorn Asbestos Antidote. Any client who uses this service is guaranteed to be fully compliant with all the Government’s rules, regulations and laws surrounding asbestos. The vast majority of the work that is needed to be done is carried out by an asbestos consultant from our expert team so once they are working with your organisation, you can leave any worries about asbestos behind you.

In addition, we are proud of the work we do to support the likes of Mesothelioma UK and ActionMeso as they work towards creating a world free from mesothelioma.

What we need now is for more people to help us. If you are aware or suspect that there might be asbestos at your workplace or in public buildings that you visit, start to ask questions about it. Get people thinking about whether there is asbestos in those properties and remind management teams they have a legal duty to make sure any asbestos in their properties is managed safely.

If you’re thinking about carrying out work on your home, and suspect it may contain asbestos, get in touch with us so we can make sure any work is carried out safely. If asbestos is disturbed at your home, it can be dangerous and cause huge disruption to your life. Only recently we reported on a case where a homeowner had to move out of their property after a ceiling containing Asbestos Insulating Board was damaged during building work. The resulting dust containing asbestos fibres spread through the house via the central heating system, resulting in the homeowner having to live in a hotel for 11 months, whilst the house was deep cleaned to remove all traces of asbestos fibres.

So, when it comes to asbestos please don’t take any risks. If you need any help contact us today.

Acorn is a professional asbestos consultancy helping organisations deal with asbestos compliance using asbestos surveysasbestos air testing, and asbestos removal management. Please call one of the team, or use the online form to obtain your free quotation. If you would like further information or advice on asbestos and asbestos training, contact the team on 0844 818 0895 or Contact Us

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.

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