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Tradesmen dying from asbestos as East London tops fatal list

PUBLISHED: 21:06 03 November 2008 | UPDATED: 13:44 05 October 2010

MORE tradesmen are dying from asbestos in the industrial areas of East London than anywhere else in the capital, shock figures reveal tonight. Deaths from asbestos are likely to continue rising, health chiefs fear—especially among tradesmen and building workers who may have been contaminated as long as 40 years ago. Some 543 have died in four boroughs along the industrial banks of London’s former dockland east of The City in the past 25 years

Mike Brooke

MORE tradesmen are dying from asbestos in the industrial areas of East London than anywhere else in the capital, shock figures reveal tonight.

Deaths from asbestos are likely to continue rising, health chiefs fear—especially among tradesmen and building workers who may have been contaminated as long as 40 years ago.

A total of 543 have died from asbestosis or related illness in four boroughs along the industrial banks of London’s former dockland east of The City in the past 25 years.

The Death List’ figure represents one-in-nine of the asbestos-related deaths across all 33 London boroughs in that period.

A total of 2,663 deaths were recorded across Greater London between 1981 and 2005.

Worse borough of all is Barking & Dagenham, which recorded 187 deaths.

Havering was next with 193, Newham third with 172 and neighbouring Tower Hamlets fourth with 91.

The figures have led the Health & Safety Executive to launch a campaign to tackle the rising death-rate.

The campaign, Asbestos—the Hidden Killer, runs throughout October and November, aimed at educating today’s tradesmen about the dangers.

The figures show 20 tradesmen die every week in Britain from asbestos-related diseases, a number which is feared is set to rise.

“Exposure to asbestos is the biggest single cause of work-related deaths,” the HSE’s Disease Reduction director Steve Coldrick confirmed.

“Around 4,000 people a year are dying from asbestos-related disease.

“The number is rising because many workers exposed to asbestos dust around 40 years ago are now going on to develop mesothelioma, a terminal cancer, or other related diseases.”

Even today, asbestos presents a real and risk to plumbers, joiners, electricians and other maintenance workers.

It can be present in any building constructed or refurbished before the Millennium year 2000.

It is estimated around 500,000 commercial and industrial buildings in Britain could still contain asbestos.

These buildings all need repair and maintenance work from time to time.

But the workmen involved are likely to be inhaling the deadly dust when the fibres are disturbed by drilling or cutting, the HSE points out.

The figures, taken from the HSE’s report Mesothelioma Mortality in Great Britain 1981-2005, show one-in-four of the 4,000 people now dying each year are tradesmen.

Deaths in trades continue to rise, while deaths in less-prone industries are no longer increasing.

Tradesmen can get a free asbestos information pack by calling 0845-345 0055, or online at:

www.hse.gov.uk/hiddenkiller


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