Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material, which was used in buildings between the 1950's until the late 1990's due to its heat-resistant and fire retardant nature.
Despite no longer being used in modern construction from 2000 onwards, it can still be found in buildings that were built beforehand.
Asbestos kills around 5000 workers each year (HSE). Remarkably, asbestos kills more people per year than those that die on the road.
Around 20 tradesman die each week as a result of past exposure.
When materials that contain asbestos are disturbed or damaged, fibres are released into the air.
When these fibres are inhaled they can cause serious diseases. One of the diseases caused is Mesothelioma, a type of cancer which affects the lining of the lungs and the lining of the lower digestive tract.
This illness is almost only found in cases of asbestos exposure, and by the time it is diagnosed, it is almost always fatal.
Asbestos can cause other types of cancer, even decades after the initial exposure.
This is why it is so important to be aware of the dangers of this substance.
If you think there is a risk of asbestos or you come across asbestos unexpectedly during work, you should ensure that you stop work immediately and inform your supervisor.
As an employee and employer you should ensure that an assessment for a risk of asbestos is carried out immediately.
This will help determine if the work requires a licensed contractor.
You should only unlicensed work on asbestos if you have the correct information, instruction and training.
Asbestos is a dangerous substance.
Ensuring that you are aware of the risks and health implications caused by asbestos may save your life, and those around you.