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UK Study: Workers Dismissing Asbestos Risks

Many construction and maintenance workers ignore the risks they face from asbestos contaminated buildings. A newly completed study by the Institute of Employment Studies (IES) found that workers either dismissed asbestos risks or falsely believed that it had been removed.

Workers interviewed for the survey often felt that asbestos was no longer a threat believing that it had been banned decades ago and was not prevalent enough to worry about. Contrary to their claims, the Health Safety Executive (HSE) pointed out that asbestos was still used as a building material into the early 1990s and that some 500,000 buildings still contain asbestos.

Some workers responded that asbestos induced diseases like mesothelioma only occurred in extreme cases of people directly handling the material. Numerous respondents also claimed that some levels of asbestos exposure are safe.

Asbestos induced conditions claim nearly 3,500 lives in the UK every year. Even with such a high number, most workers felt that the chances of getting the disease equated to odds of winning the lottery.

Most respondents admitted that they were not fully aware of the true risks of exposure and were not as knowledgeable as they should be on the subject.

The study did not mention there responses in terms of how well building owners are following the law. Asbestos in buildings is regulated by the Control of Asbestos Regulations that requires property owners or managers to identify and inventory asbestos on their premises and inform workers of its existence.