Figures released by The World Health Organization estimate that 125 million people across the world are exposed every year to asbestos in their place of work. And to coincide with those figures, the International Labour Organization reports that more than 107,000 workers die every year from an asbestos related disease. Several thousand people also reportedly die from asbestos in the environment. Therefore, asbestos across the world is a huge problem that needs to be tackled.
To date, the use of asbestos has been banned in more than 50 countries, including the UK, but other countries are slow to follow suit and are still using the deadly material in industry as it’s such a cheap and affordable material to use.
Supporters of asbestos argue that chrysotile asbestos is safe to use when under controlled conditions, but researchers have shown that all forms of asbestos are dangerous and can cause cancer, the most common form being mesothelioma.
Russia are without a doubt the world’s largest exporter of asbestos, with Kazakhstan coming in at a close second followed by the likes of China, India and Brazil.
World health organisations are trying to ban the use of asbestos across the world, with the world health organisation being at the forefront of the global campaign. They want to see a total ban put in place by the year 2020. They have policies in place and will continue to raise awareness about the dangers of asbestos.
Hazardous substances list
Many countries have now voted to add chrysotile asbestos to the Rotterdam Convention Hazardous Substances list, with the view to try and reduce the harmful effects of asbestos across the world. This means that countries that export any substances on the hazardous substances list have to ensure that those countries receiving the goods are fully informed of the risks to health.
There are 5 out of 6 asbestos types on this list, but as of yet, the argument continues as some countries believe that chrysotile can still be used. It won’t be added to the list until all countries are in agreement that it should be banned.
Asbestos use in the United Kingdom
The Asbestos Industry Regulations were introduced to the United Kingdom back in 1931 and determined a “safe” level of exposure. Then in 1960, this legal exposure limit was increased. This meant workers faced a higher risk of contracting mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases. In 1968 the exposure limit was lowered to reduce the risk of disease.
As a result of years of high exposure in the 1960’s, the number of asbestos related deaths has increased over the years, from just 153 deaths in 1968 to 2,360 in 2010. The U.K. banned the use of crocidolite and amosite asbestos in the 1980s. Chrysotile asbestos was banned in 1999.
Duty holders and employers have a legal responsibility to manage asbestos in their building so as not to put employees at risk. Contact our Armco office for asbestos management and refurbishment/ demolition surveys on 0161 763 3727 or by visiting http://www.armco.org.uk/. Alternatively call 0161 761 4424 or visit http://www.armcoasbestostraining.co.uk/for enquiries or to book a training course.