Figures recently released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that in 2017 there were 2,523 deaths from mesothelioma, a similar number to the previous five years. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of the organs, usually caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibres.
Asbestos-related cancers can take many years to develop following asbestos exposure. Therefore, over the last 50 years, annual deaths have increased greatly. Above all, this is because of the widespread industrial use of asbestos between 1950-1980.
Estimates show that a similar number of people die from asbestos-related lung cancers. This cannot be as accurately measured, because it is more difficult to establish a cause for lung cancer and directly attribute this to past asbestos exposure.
The HSE predicts that there will continue to be approximately 2,500 deaths per year for the rest of this decade, before annual numbers start to decline. As building industry jobs were mostly undertaken by men when asbestos was used extensively, mesothelioma is far more common in men than in women.
Asbestos exposure not confined to the building industry
Approximately 90% of school buildings in England contain asbestos. As a result, the ability of schools to safely manage this carcinogen has come under greater scrutiny. The HSE advises that asbestos is only a risk if it is disturbed or damaged, however, many staff are often unaware of its location. Most importantly, this can potentially put themselves and their pupils at risk. As reported by the Guardian, in the last year, the Department for Education (DfE) has referred almost 700 state-funded schools and academies in England to the HSE. This is because of concerns they are failing to safely manage asbestos in their buildings in line with legal requirements.
Furthermore, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) state that since 2001 at least 305 teaching and education professionals have died of mesothelioma.
How can the S2 Partnership help?
The S2 Partnership’s dedicated team of asbestos consultants assist clients daily with asbestos management plans, processes, surveys and advice, to safeguard the health and safety of individuals. In addition, the RiskWise Asbestos Register provides the easiest solution for managing asbestos information online - providing full visibility of information to contractors and other stakeholders. For advice or assistance, contact our specialist asbestos team.