In 2003, a school discovered asbestos whilst carrying out rewiring work. The school had to be closed whilst the asbestos was urgently removed by professionals, which took several months. There is a risk of inhaling asbestos fibres during removal so it is important that it is only completed by someone who is trained and has sufficient protection.
In 2008, the HSE launched its ‘Hidden Killer’ campaign, aiming to raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos and reduce the death rate from asbestos-related diseases. Since the launch of the campaign, the HSE has seen a 100% increase in calls to its telephone Infoline and the number of visitors to the ‘Hidden Killer’ website has increased by six times.
Earlier this year, the BBC reported that a firm had been charged £18,000 for failing to protect seven of its workers from exposure to asbestos. In a statement after the case was heard, the HSE stated that licensed workers should have been called in to remove the asbestos.
Asbestos cement is made from ordinary cement mixed with asbestos. Asbestos can make up around a third of the cement in some cases. Asbestos cement looks just like ordinary cement but it also has some of the properties that made asbestos so popular as a building material, before the harmful effects of exposure were realised.