Former electrician backs Health and Safety Executive asbestos safety campaign after revealing ignorance over hidden killer
England football star Stuart Pearce is blowing the whistle on asbestos after revealing he could have breathed in the deadly dust while working part time as an electrician during his early football career.
The Nottingham Forest manager and former Newcastle and England left back fears his ignorance about the fatal fibre when he worked for four years as an electrician, means there’s a real possibility he could develop a deadly asbestos related disease in the future.
He is now backing an asbestos safety campaign by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) urging all tradespeople to be aware of asbestos and take sensible measures against the hidden killer.
While safe work with asbestos has come a long way since Pearce was working as an electrician in the early 1980s, it remains a very real danger today. HSE estimates 1.3 million tradespeople are still potentially at risk of being exposed to the microscopic fibres that can prove fatal if breathed in.
Pearce said: “I was working as an electrician for four and a half years and it’s chilling to think I could have been exposed to it without knowing, we were simply ignorant about the risks back then.
“Today there’s no excuse – most people know how dangerous asbestos is but many think it’s a thing of the past, it’s not, it’s still there. It can be found in walls, ceilings, even floor tiles and guttering – basically in any type of building built before the year 2000”.
“Making sure you’re aware of where it can be found and how to deal with it safely, even on basic jobs like drilling holes or sanding, really could mean the difference between life and death.”
The trained electrician turned football legend is also encouraging workers to use HSE’s free web app for phones, tablets and pcs that helps tradespeople easily identify where they could come into contact with asbestos as they go about their day-to-day work and gives them easy-to-follow guides on how to deal work safely.
He added: “It can be so easy to breathe in this deadly dust and it may be years until you realise you’ve been affected. Every tradesperson that falls victim to asbestos related diseases like mesothelioma and asbestosis is one too many, especially if it’s a result of ignorance. Let’s make asbestos deaths a thing of the past.”
To get the free web app please visit www.beware-asbestos.info/news
For more information on asbestos safety please visit www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos
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NOTES TO EDITORS:
- The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
- Twenty tradespeople, on average, die every week from asbestos related diseases. Weekly deaths attributed to past asbestos exposure in building maintenance trades are estimated based on the proportion of mesotheliomas where such jobs were mentioned on the death certificate.
- HSE estimates that 1.3 million tradespeople are potentially at risk of being exposed to asbestos. This is based on current estimates of employment in Great Britain in construction-related occupations which are most likely to involve coming into contact with asbestos. Figures are taken from the Annual Population Survey.
- HSE has launched a new campaign to help tradespeople work more safely with asbestos and protect themselves from danger.
- The campaign is made up of the following:
- Free asbestos safety kits distributed through TradePoint stores from 29 September 2014
- A free web app that helps people work more safely with asbestos to support behaviour change
- National press advertising to raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos and drive use of the free web app from November
- Promotion of key messages through commercial organisations that interact regularly with our target audience
- Delivering messages through stakeholders
- Further HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press