The silent and potentially deadly risks of asbestos

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Deadly risks of asbestos are outlined in this warning poster.Although the focus of the media is on COVID 19, there are other silent and potentially deadly risks to be borne in mind by employers and workers.

Asbestos, for example, remains the world’s biggest cause of work-related cancer and two international bodies have come together to raise awareness of the risks it poses.

Global Asbestos Awareness Week is a partnership of IOSH and the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organisation. The aim is to help organisations make the right decisions and protect workers from a disease that claims at least 107,000 lives a year worldwide.

The theme of the week is ‘One Word. One Week. One World’ and it brings together experts and victims from around the world to share, learn and take action to prevent asbestos exposure.

The initiative will share stories of mesothelioma victims, advice and guidance from the World Health Organization, and digital education from IOSH’s No Time to Lose campaign to promote prevention of exposure to asbestos.

IOSH Chief Executive Bev Messinger, said: “We’re proud to be partnering with ADAO for Global Asbestos Awareness Week 2020. Through our No Time to Lose campaign, we’ve a range of resources that can help organisations manage the risks of exposure to asbestos and I’d encourage employers to use these and other advice, provided by organisations such as ADAO, to keep their workers safe.

“In these challenging times, we wish everyone and their families well, and I can assure you that IOSH and its members are doing absolutely everything we can to protect people at work, wherever they be.”

ADAO’s co-founder and mesothelioma widow, Linda Reinstein, said: “We’re excited to be collaborating with IOSH to help highlight our educational messages on preventing asbestos exposure globally.

“The simple truth is asbestos kills and prevention remains the only cure. Asbestos-caused diseases like mesothelioma can take years, even decades, to kill, but the hidden risk of asbestos fibres only takes a few heartbeats to tell. While we continue to deal with a difficult global pandemic, patients with asbestos-related diseases face an even greater risk. We remain dedicated to our prevention and policy work to eliminate all asbestos-caused diseases.”

Organisations will be encouraged to support the No Time to Lose campaign and sign up to its pledge, a six-step plan which captures the key actions an organisation is taking, or plans to take, to manage carcinogenic exposures in its workplace. Businesses that make a pledge will be eligible for an IOSH campaign certificate.

More than 390 organisations from 40 countries support the campaign and have agreed to raise awareness of occupational cancer, and 135 leading businesses have signed up to the pledge to manage carcinogens in the workplace.

Find out more about Global Asbestos Awareness Week and join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #2020GAAW and tagging @IOSH_tweets, @_NTTL and @Linda_ADAO in your posts.
To become a No Time to Lose campaign pledge signatory, visit this webpage.

Here is advice and more information on COVID-19 for key workers and healthcare workers.