Call For Govt To Stop Ignoring Dangers Of Asbestos
Construction union UCATT are calling on the Government to stop ignoring the dangers caused by asbestos. The union made the call to coincide with today's Action for Mesothelioma Day, July 5th.
Roughly 2,500 people a year die from mesothelioma the incurable cancer of the lining of the lung. Death rates from the disease are expected to continue to rise in the future.
Despite asbestos finally being banned in the UK in 2000, there are very large quantities of the material still in buildings. Construction workers are now at the greatest risk of being exposed to asbestos.
Steve Murphy General Secretary of UCATT, said: "Thousands of workers have already tragically died of mesothelioma and thousands more will die in the future from this terrible disease. Deaths could and should have been prevented; employers knew the risk and chose to do nothing."
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Despite the risks to construction workers there is a great deal of ignorance about the dangers of asbestos. However, soon after taking office the Conservative-led Government's budget cuts meant that further rounds of the Health and Safety Executive's Hidden Killer campaign were cancelled. The Hidden Killer campaign was specifically targeted at construction workers to warn and educate them of the danger of asbestos.
The Government has also reneged on a commitment of the previous Labour Government to fund NCARD (National Centre for Asbestos Related Disease). This is despite research into asbestos related diseases and cancers receiving little funding compared to similar diseases.
Earlier this year the Government, after a delay of nearly three years responded to the consultation began by the previous Labour Government on the establishment of an Employers Liability Insurance Bureau (ELIB) which would provide compensation to victims of asbestos diseases, where the relevant insurer could not be traced.
Following a large number of meetings with the insurance industry the Government is pushing ahead with a watered down Mesothelioma Bill. While an ELIB will be created it will only cover mesothelioma victims and not victims of asbestos related lung cancer or other fatal asbestos diseases. This will result in hundreds of asbestos victims being denied any compensation. For those eligible for compensation, this will be set at a flat rate of 70% of what an average amount of compensation for someone of that age would receive.