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Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that takes many years to develop following the inhalation of asbestos fibres, but progress is usually rapidly fatal following symptom onset.

Figures recently released by the HSE show that 2,369 people died from mesothelioma in Great Britain in 2019. While this is 7% lower than the annual average over the period 2012-2018, taking into account a similar number of asbestos related lung cancer deaths it is estimated that exposure to asbestos accounts for 40% of deaths related to occupational lung diseases.

The figures also show that the group most at risk are men who worked in the building industry when asbestos was used extensively in the past. However asbestos can be found in any building constructed before 2000 and remains a risk in particular for tradespeople carrying our construction and refurbishment work who may disturb asbestos containing materials while working.

The HSE in Northern Ireland (HSENI) have launched a campaign aimed at raising awareness of the dangers of working with asbestos. A key part of this campaign is to encourage tradespeople to ‘Always Ask for the Asbestos Register’, particularly when working on buildings constructed before 2000.

People responsible for commercial buildings have a duty to manage any asbestos found on those premises. This duty includes identifying if asbestos is present (usually by having a survey carried out) and making a record of the findings i.e. where asbestos containing materials are or are assumed to be present, this is often referred to as the asbestos register. This register should be checked before any work is carried out so that proper plans can be put in place to manage the risk.

Please speak to your normal PIB Risk Management contact or get in touch using if you have any questions managing or working with asbestos.