Having agreed last week with my Management team to generate an asbestos awareness campaign and refresh our teams’ vigilance, I thought it might be useful to write a short blog before I fly to Portugal for two weeks of blog free rest and relaxation.
If you employ a sign company or sign installer to maintain, repair or install a sign on your premises, under section 3 of the Health & Safety At Work Act 1974 (HSAWA) , you not only have a legal duty of care to them, but are also responsible for their actions whilst working on your site. That means that if they come into contact with asbestos, or expose your site patrons or customers to it, you are legally responsible.
Frequently asked questions about asbestos can be found on the HSEThe Health and Safety Executive (HSE) - The body responsible for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare, and for research into occupational risks in England and Wales and Scotland. website by clicking the following link:- http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/faq.htm and regulations specifically aimed at managing this lethal material are documented in the way of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
Many buildings contain this deadly material that was once seen by builders as having revolutionary properties. Now, contact with it is known to be extremely hazardous and breathing in one single fibre can result in a slow and painful death some 40 years later.
Studies have linked more than a dozen different diseases to asbestos exposure, but the four main recognised diseases are as follows:-
- Mesothelioma (a cancer of the lining of the lungs; it is always fatal and is almost exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos)
- Asbestos-related lung cancer (which is almost always fatal)
- Asbestosis (a scarring of the lungs which is not always fatal but can be a very debilitating disease, greatly affecting quality of life)
- Diffuse pleural thickening (a thickening of the membrane surrounding the lungs which can restrict lung expansion leading to breathlessness.)
So, you may think “that won’t happen to me! ” – but the company that I run works for some of the best Blue Chip clients, but our employees have still identified asbestos in shops, behind shop fascia boards and inside canopy stanchions; fortunately, the men who identified it were suitably trained and identified the asbestos content prior to drilling, fixing into it or disturbing it and our clients had it professionally removed.
You may be surprised if I told you that 1,800 people a year die in the UK from asbestos related death and The World Health Organisation estimate asbestos related deaths to be 107, 000 per year worldwide.
If you own retail properties, then you will almost certainly be aware of the legalities of having an asbestos register, something that workmen should always ask for before starting work as part of ensuring their own safety and that of your own staff and site patrons.
My recommendation to all sign buyers would be to insist on seeing proof of the sign installer’s United Kingdom Asbestos Training Association (UKATA) accredited asbestos training prior to them starting work as part of your ‘Knowledge, Experience, Practical Ability and Training’ due diligence as specified in the HSAWA.
UKATA can be contacted via the following link:- http://www.ukata.org.uk/