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Training pledge to tackle asbestos death toll

A poignant target of 4000 hours of free asbestos awareness training has been set in a new initiative to help tradesmen across Britain protect themselves from the deadly dust.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in partnership with the training industry, is calling for those who run training course to pledge free hours during September to hit a target of 4,000 - the approximate number of deaths each year from asbestos-related diseases.

The free training will be available throughout October and November and is aimed at tradesmen such as joiners, electricians and plumbers who are most likely to disturb the fibres as they go about their work - around 20 a week lose their lives to asbestos-related diseases.

Across Britain, more than 40,000 people have died from the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma since the late 1960s - and the numbers dying are increasing. Latest annual figures show that 2,249 people died from the disease in 2008 alone, up over 3% on the previous year.

Said Karen Clayton, HSE's director for long latency health risks:

"Our Hidden Killer campaign is helping tradesmen understand the lifesaving fact that asbestos exposure is not just an historical problem - around half a million public buildings still contain it.

"This new initiative, a continuation of the campaign, is all about tradesmen finding out exactly what they need to do to protect themselves by taking advantage of free training.

"There is sadly little we can do to help those who are already suffering the often fatal effects of asbestos exposure in the workplace, but we can prevent this hidden killer claiming another generation.”

Find out more about asbestosis advice here

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