Asbestos still kills

By Alan Ritchie, general secretary of the UCATT trade union in Britain:

Scourge of asbestos continues

Sunday 13 September 2009

TUC 2009: Deaths from asbestos plague many traditional working-class communities, especially those where heavy industries were dominant.

While many of those industries have now gone, asbestos deaths and cases of asbestos-related diseases are on the rise.

For most of these diseases, it can take up to 30 years after exposure before symptoms begin to appear.

Until the start of this century, asbestos was still widely used in construction and, as a result, construction workers are now at the greatest risk of dying from asbestos diseases.

Recent research by the London School of Hygiene found that carpenters who were heavily exposed to asbestos before the age of 30 had a 10 per cent chance of dying from the incurable lung cancer mesothelioma.

Asbestos-related diseases devastate lives. And this is why the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT) feels so passionately about pleural plaques – a scarring of the lungs caused by heavy and prolonged exposure to asbestos. Victims suffer some physical symptoms but also severe mental trauma.

James Hardie: the company that tried to get away with murder: here.

Australia has one of the highest rates of asbestos-related disease in the world. Asbestos kills and goes on killing for generations. The Australian Council of Trade Unions estimates that by 2020, 30,000 to 40,000 people in Australia will have contracted an asbestos-related cancer: here.

Unions call on Canada to stop dumping asbestos in Asia: here.

Britain: Insurance: Asbestos campaigners demand coalition government come clean on secret pact with industry: here.

Canada’s Conservative government has prevented asbestos—a notorious carcinogen responsible for tens of thousands of deaths each year—from being listed as a hazardous substance under the United Nations’ Rotterdam Convention: here.

Supreme Court judges quashed a Welsh Assembly Bill yesterday that would have forced firms to pay the care costs of workers suffering from asbestos-related illnesses: here.

Deadly Asbestos Still Costing Lives: here.

13 thoughts on “Asbestos still kills

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  3. Saturday 21st November 2015

    posted by Morning Star in Britain

    THE TORIES refused yesterday to act on urgent calls to make insurers pay for potentially life-saving research into combating the asbestos-related disease mesothelioma.

    Health Minister Lord Prior of Brampton said the government was “not predisposed” to the idea of a levy.

    He delivered the heartless rebuff after Lord Alton of Liverpool warned that, without a medical breakthrough, the disease would claim a further 60,000 lives in Britain over the next three decades.

    “This isn’t simply a disease of the past,” he told the Lords. “Asbestos remains present in about 86 per cent of schools.”

    Under last year’s Mesothelioma Act, insurance firms are required to fund a compensation scheme for victims.

    Lord Alton’s Bill would amend the legislation to ensure that the levy included a supplement to fund medical research.

    The Bill received an unopposed second reading but has little chance of becoming law without government backing.


  4. Thursday 19th May 2016

    posted by Conrad Landin in Britain

    SOCIAL HOUSING landlords should have a “legal duty” to undertake asbestos surveys and give the results to tenants and maintenance workers, the Ucatt conference affirmed yesterday.

    Delegates heard that a number of construction workers had recently been exposed to the deadly substance due to landlords’ failure to share information with contractors carrying out building work.

    Alloa delegate Sandy Harrower told the conference that absestos presented the “biggest occupational risk to construction workers” through the materialisation of terminal mesothelioma decades after exposure.

    A motion passed by delegates says the union will “name, shame and publicise councils, housing associations and private contractors involved in exposing Ucatt members to asbestos.”

    Painter Tracey Whittle told the conference how her mother-in-law had been diagnosed with the disease in 2013, despite having “never done a day’s work in her life” in construction.

    She was given between three and five years to live, but she died within a few months of first receiving medical care.

    Ms Whittle said the government had admitted the navy housing in which her parents-in-law once lived may have been contaminated.

    She said her husband had been told he could not be tested for asbestos exposure, adding: “I hope he doesn’t go the way she went.”


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