Unions call to remove asbestos within 40 years

Woman with terminal cancer backs Union calls to remove asbestos

A woman who was diagnosed with terminal cancer is joining union calls for asbestos to be removed from all public buildings.

Rose Hall, 64, unknowingly breathing in asbestos fibres as a pupil at a Leeds school.

She has backed calls from unions for asbestos to be removed within 40 years.

Danger

Asbestos is the biggest cause of work-related deaths in the UK, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The HSE says around 5,000 people a year die of illnesses caused by exposure to the building material, with more than 2,700 people diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.

Banned

Asbestos was widely used for insulation before it was banned over health concerns in 1999.

An estimated 87,000 public buildings still contain the hazardous material, according to research by legal firm Irwin Mitchell, which has represented victims in lawsuits.

A coalition of 27 trade unions this month called for all major political parties to commit to a 40-year deadline for asbestos to be removed.

In a joint letter, they said: “Asbestos is one of the great workplace tragedies of modern times and it is a national disgrace that Britain has one of the highest mesothelioma mortality rates in the world.”

Almost 81% of state schools in England still contain asbestos, according the Department for Education (DfE).

Wayne Bates, national negotiating official at the teaching union NASUWT, said under the government’s current building programme it would take 400 years to rebuild every school in the country.

“To think that in 400 years’ time we might still have asbestos in buildings really is completely unacceptable,” he added.

MPs on the Work and Pensions Committee called for a 40-year deadline for all asbestos to be removed from public and commercial buildings.

But the government has refused to commit to the deadline, saying there was no clear evidence it would improve health outcomes.

The DfE said asbestos was “generally safe to be left in place” but it would provide guidance to schools where it needed to be removed.

 

 

 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-67287861

Wayne Bates, national negotiating official at the teaching union NASUWT, said under the government’s current building programme it would take 400 years to rebuild every school in the country.

“To think that in 400 years’ time we might still have asbestos in buildings really is completely unacceptable,” he added.

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