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    Asbestos claims 1,400 West lives

     

    Death toll mounts with more killed each year than on the roads.

     

    Thousands of West men have fallen victim to the biggest workplace killer – asbestos – and more are being killed every year; it has emerged.

     

    New figures issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed the scale of the problem, as it launched a new campaign to prevent further tragedies.

     

    The statistics show at least 1,462 men in the West are known to have died since 1981 of mesothelioma, a cancer caused by breathing in deadly asbestos fibres, and the total is sure to be larger.

     

    There have been 182 deaths in Bristol, 123 in Swindon and 104 in South Gloucestershire, and high numbers in more rural places such as North Somerset, with 90.

     

    West Somerset has seen the fewest killed, with 10, followed by Purbeck (12), Kennet (20) and Cheltenham (22).  Every week about 20 tradesmen die in Britain from asbestos-related diseases, with the numbers increasing.  Most at risk are those most likely to damage or disturb asbestos, such as plumbers, electricians and joiners, and the HSE is targeting them with its “hidden killer” campaign.

     

    Anyone working on a building that dates from before 1980 could be at risk without knowing it, and there are about 500,000 business properties around the UK that contain asbestos.

     

    HSE South West head of construction Andrew Kingscott said: “Asbestos is Britain’s biggest industrial killer.  Contrary to what many people believe, the risks are not a thing of the past – asbestos-related illnesses claim the lives of 4,000 people every year, more than the number who die in road accidents.

     

    “Research shows that many workers, particularly tradesmen, think that since asbestos was banned many years ago they are not at risk, but the reality is very different.

     

    “Asbestos-related diseases can take hold decades after exposure, so it is essential young tradesmen think about their health 20, 30 or 40 years from now.

     

    “We want them to change the way they work so they don’t put their lives at risk.

     

    “The most simple, but important, advice is, if you are not 100 per cent certain that there is no asbestos where you are working then don’t start work, it is not worth the risk.  Think of it as not just protecting yourself, but also protecting your family and loved ones from unnecessary heartache.”

     

    The HSE’s £1.2 million campaign will see more than 500,000 information packs sent out and an advertising blitz.

     

    Across Britain more than 35,000 people died from mesothelioma between 1977 and 2007, with the numbers increasing.

     

    The campaign is backed by trade unions, charities and victim support groups, and TUC leader Brendan Barber said asbestos must not be written off as a 20th century problem.

     

    “Asbestos has posed a long-running threat to generations of British workers, many of whom have faced an early death because they were not told about the hidden killer in their workplaces,” he said.

     

    “We owe it to the memory of those whose lives have been cut short to get the message through to today’s workers.”

     

     

    Male deaths from mesothelioma since 1981

    Local Authority Number of deaths
    Bath & NE Somerset

    80

    Bournemouth

    69

    Bristol

    182

    North Somerset

    90

    Poole

    77

    South Glos.

    104

    Swindon

    123

    North Devon

    46

    Christchurch

    33

    East Dorset

    49

    Weymouth & Portland

    31

    West Dorset

    46

    North Dorset

    26

    Purbeck

    12

    Gloucester

    48

    Stroud

    43

    Forest of Dean

    29

    Cotswold

    28

    Tewkesbury

    24

    Cheltenham

    22

    Sedgemoor

    49

    Mendip

    35

    Taunton Deane

    32

    South Somerset

    45

    West Somerset

    10

    North Wiltshire

    37

    West Wiltshire

    38

    Salisbury

    34

    Kennet

    20

    “Western Daily Press” 9.11.09

     

    Humphreys & Co. are pleased to support the North Bristol NHS Trust Mesothelioma Research Fund