HSE summit to highlight asbestos danger

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has felt it necessary to call the eighth summit of its kind to try to persuade the asbestos removal industry to shape up, as solicitors still see too many claims for ill-health caused by asbestos and too many asbestos-related deaths still occur.

Asbestos-related disease kills more than 3,500 people a year in Britain and Northern Ireland, making it the leading single cause of death due to work-related illness in the UK.

Around 600 of these deaths are caused by work with asbestos in the construction industry and allied trades.

The main conditions that can be caused by contact with asbestos are lung cancer and mesothelioma, which can both be fatal. Pleural disease and pleural plaque are also caused by exposure to the toxic material, although these do not lead directly to death.

Although an assessment revealed that the industry had made improvements in recent years, individual organisations should do more to investigate what further preventative measures can be put in place to reduce exposure to asbestos and reduce cases of asbestos-related disease and death.

Charles Gilby, asbestos licensing principal inspector in HSE's field operations directorate, said: "We are determined to work with the industry, and our objective is to convince them that higher standards to protect health are achievable and needed."

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