The Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK have welcomed proposals for a new law to remove asbestos from workplaces, public buildings and homes in Britain by 2035.
The proposals, contained in a new report, “The asbestos crisis – Why Britain needs an eradication law”, are published today by the All-Party Group on Occupational Safety and Health.
This country has an appalling legacy of asbestos-related diseases because of the widespread use of asbestos in construction and heavy industry in the post-war years. Britain has the highest mortality rates for mesothelioma, a fatal asbestos-related cancer, in the world. More than 2,500 people died in Britain in each of the last 2 years, with a similar number estimated to have died from asbestos-related lung cancer and asbestosis. Asbestos is responsible for three times as many deaths as road traffic accidents each year.
Although the import and use of asbestos in Britain was finally, and belatedly, banned in 1999, most of it is still embedded in the fabric of many of our homes, workplaces and public buildings, including schools and hospitals.
Graham Dring, Chair of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups’ Forum UK said today, “Such a law is essential if we are to put an end to the ongoing tragedy of needless asbestos-related deaths, and the heartbreak this causes for those left behind. Support Groups around the country are dealing with the legacy of disease caused by exposure to asbestos decades ago. But we are also seeing increasing numbers of people who did not work directly with asbestos but have contracted diseases because asbestos was in the building where they worked.
Unfortunately, you cannot guarantee asbestos will remain undisturbed and that buildings will remain in good repair. The only sure way to prevent exposure in the future is to get it removed. We don’t expect this to happen overnight. But Government needs to start now to plan and set targets for phased, safe removal. Asbestos victims were badly let down in the past by the failure to ban asbestos until decades after the dangers were first known. We owe it to future generations to stop the epidemic of asbestos diseases by removing the root cause from our workplaces, public buildings and homes.”