TRADESPEOPLE in Yorkshire are putting themselves at risk of a deadly cancer because they don’t know enough about asbestos, says a report.
The study by the British Lung Foundation said there was alarming ignorance among workers such as builders, plasterers, plumbers, electricians and gas fitters about the dangers of asbestos.
It said that one in five tradespeople in the North thought asbestos was no longer a serious problem.
Some 40% wrongly thought that most asbestos had been removed from the nation’s buildings.
Fewer than a third knew that exposure to asbestos could cause cancer issue and only 12% knew it could kill them.
Yet 20 tradespeople died every week due to asbestos-related diseases, while asbestos was rated Britain’s biggest workplace killer.
The foundation said that one asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma, killed more than 10 people a week across northern England.
Now DIY expert and TV presenter Craig Phillips – who has an uncle suffering from an asbestos-related lung disease – is supporting a call by the foundation for tradespeople to be “asbestos aware”.
He said: “I have seen first-hand what asbestos can do and I don’t want anyone else to suffer as my uncle has.
“I am urging tradespeople to make sure they are asbestos aware and to always stop working and get advice if they think asbestos could be present on their job.”
Dame Helena Shovelton, the foundation’s chief executive, said: “It is a great worry that tradespeople in the North are especially quick to dismiss the risks posed by asbestos..
“Asbestos is a killer that could be lurking in the building these tradespeople are working on today.”
“The study also revealed that tradespeople in the North were most likely to scrape materials in order to identify asbestos, a dangerous practice that releases harmful fibres into the air.
One in 10 tradespeople said they had felt under pressure to continue working even if they have suspected asbestos is present. Four out of five tradespeople did not routinely ask if the site they were working on had been checked for asbestos before they started the job.