Poignant pledge tackles asbestos deaths
Date published: 07 September 2011
A support group, which helps sufferers of asbestos diseases in Greater Manchester, is backing a new initiative to provide free training for tradesmen.
A poignant target of 4,000 hours of free asbestos awareness training has been set to help workers across Britain protect themselves from the deadly dust – one hour for each of the approximate 4,000 deaths every year.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in partnership with the training industry, is calling for businesses to pledge free courses and it hopes to hit the target of 4,000 hours during September.
The scheme is being supported by the Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims’ Support Group, which was set up in 1994 to provide advice and support to sufferers of asbestos diseases, their families and carers.
It is hoped that 4,000 face-to-face training hours and an additional 4,000 hours of online training will be offered up by various providers.
The free training will be available throughout October and November and is aimed at tradesmen such as joiners, electricians and plumbers who are most likely to disturb the fibres as they go about their work – around 20 a week lose their lives to asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma.
In the North West, there were 1,251 mesothelioma deaths in the five years between 2004 and 2008. David Sowerby, HSE’s North West Regional Director, said: “Our Hidden Killer campaign has helped tradesmen understand the lifesaving fact that asbestos exposure is not just an historical problem – around half a million public buildings still contain it.
“This next phase of the campaign is all about tradesmen finding out exactly what they need to do to protect themselves by taking advantage of free training.
“There is, sadly, little that we can do to help those who are already suffering the often fatal effects of asbestos exposure in the workplace, but we can prevent this hidden killer claiming another generation.
“Through the continued commitment of asbestos support groups and by industry playing its part, we can all do something practical to ensure that the risk to workers is minimised.”
Tony Whitston, Chairman of the Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims’ Support Group, added: “Each day, we visit newly diagnosed mesothelioma sufferers who were never warned of the dangers of asbestos at work and who never knew how essential it was to avoid exposure to asbestos.
“As we confront the awful legacy from past exposure to asbestos, the importance of asbestos awareness and training today cannot be exaggerated: it absolutely vital.
“That is why, in the name of all those whose lives have been lost to asbestos disease, we give our wholehearted support to this initiative, which seeks to provide free asbestos training and, most importantly, publicise the importance of asbestos training provision.”
Independent Asbestos Training Providers (IATP) and the UK Asbestos Training Association (UKATA) are working with HSE to encourage their members to pledge. Members of the Asbestos Safety Health Environmental e-Learning Association (ASHEeLA) are being encouraged to provide free online training courses.
Training providers looking to pledge hours are invited to visit the campaign website, www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/training-pledge, and those wanting to sign up to free training can see what is being pledged in their area by following links on the site.
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