Public ‘not at risk’ from asbestos after Glasgow nightclub fire

One of the sternest recent tests for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service occurred on the morning of Thursday 22nd March, when a fire took hold in the roof of a building on Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street that it was initially feared could spread to nearby structures such as the historic Pavilion Theatre.

Thankfully, that dreaded scenario did not come to pass, although the decision was made by Glasgow City Council not to allow staff access to the theatre for about two months amid concerns about smoke damage and damage caused to some of the venue’s doors by fire-fighters.

Nonetheless, one positive development is the fire service’s statement that there is “no risk” to the public of being exposed to asbestos as a result of the sad blaze.

Vital atmospheric testing undertaken

 According to a fire service spokesperson on 23rd March, atmospheric testing had been carried out and “concluded that there is no risk to the public from asbestos.”

However, the council deemed buildings at 92-96 and 98-106 – the latter including Victoria’s nightclub – to be unsafe, adding that they would have to be demolished.

The fire broke out at about 8:20am on the Thursday, and at its height, more than 120 fire-fighters and 20 fire engines were mobilised to the city centre.

What dangers can asbestos pose in fires like this?

 While worries about the asbestos risk from this particular high-profile fire have thankfully been quelled, that does not mean your own buildings could not pose such a danger in the event of a devastating conflagration like this.

The use of asbestos in buildings in the UK was completely banned before the end of the 20th century, but the harmful material may still be present in properties built or revamped before then.

Asbestos was once widely used in such areas of buildings as under the floorboards, boilers, pipework, insulation, calorifiers and heat exchangers. If a person inhales asbestos fibres, some may become trapped in the organs and cause deadly diseases such as lung cancer, asbestosis or malignant mesothelioma. Thousands of deaths each year are linked to asbestos-related diseases.

Don’t leave asbestos removals to chance

 If you are unsure whether the users or occupants of your buildings or members of the public could be exposed to asbestos on your premises, it’s essential to avoid any unnecessary risks.

Instead, get on the phone to our experts in asbestos removals here at Trident Asbestos Solutions today, calling 03333 441555 for your competitive quotation.  

Widnes widow searches for answers after asbestos-related loss

asbestos in ships

A 69-year old woman from Widnes is appealing for information after her husband died from mesothelioma – a form of cancer that affects the lining of several internal organs and is caused by exposure to asbestos.

Frank Holland worked an eight-year stint in the Merchant Navy, where he tended to work in the boiler and engine rooms of the ships. He worked on various ships during his time there, including The Araby, MV Herdsman, MV Nova Scotia, Roscoe and Esso Tankers.

After he left the Merchant Navy, Frank worked as an HGV driver, aside from a three-year spell at ICI’s Weston Point Salt Works in Runcorn in the 1970s.

He fell ill at 72 and was soon diagnosed with mesothelioma, which is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos fibres and can affect various vital organs including the lungs, stomach and heart. It has a very long latency period, which means it can remain undetected in the body for decades, as was the case with Mr Holland.

The overall survival rate for mesothelioma is extremely poor, but can vary depending on age, how early it is detected and where the cancer is located within the body.

Frank died two months after being diagnosed. His widow Jen is now appealing to his former colleagues for more information on where he could have become exposed to the asbestos fibres.

She stated that “in those days the pipes on ships were always lagged with asbestos, but no one thought anything of it then”.

Jen is working with Stacey White, an industrial disease specialist at law firm Slater and Gordon, to find out more information on the events that led up to his death. White stated that “although he was not aware of the dangers, unfortunately many employers at that time were and what we are keen to establish now is if more could have been done to protect him.”

Nowadays, more and more cases of asbestos-related diseases are coming to light. Fortunately, we are also much more aware of the dangers of asbestos and what can be done to remove it from working or living environments.

Trident Surveying offers a wide array of asbestos safety-related services, including asbestos air testing, asbestos surveying and on-line awareness training. For more information about how such services could benefit your organisation, please feel free to contact us.

Asbestos released from 1983 warehouse fire claims second victim

COD Donnington

 

The aftermath of a fire at the largest army storage warehouse in Europe has claimed its second victim, more than 30 years after the event itself.

Paula Ann Nunn died aged 68 from mesothelioma in September. The lung disease, a form of cancer, is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos, and her death has been directly linked to the fire that took place at COD Donnington in 1983.

The fire sent an excessive amount of smoke, dust and debris high into the air, with it later raining down over a 15 square mile area. Particularly affected were the gardens of the people living nearby.

The extent of the debris was so great that the first victim of mesothelioma linked to the fire, Ellen Paddock, described “seeing snowflakes falling, and playing in them”. Tragically, these “snowflakes” were deposits of asbestos released by the fire. Mrs Paddock died in 2008, aged only 31.

Before her death, Mrs Nunn contacted Asbestos Support, telling them of the ash from the fire that had collected in her garden at the time of the fire. A local coroner stated: “For two days there were no warnings that the dust was dangerous and by this time a lot had accumulated over the local area, in particular in Mrs Nunn’s back garden.” Initially, it was denied that the ash contained asbestos, and it remained in the street for almost a week before a clean-up operation began.

Although Mrs Nunn’s death was recorded as accidental by her coroner, he pledged to keep the file on COD Donnington open, as it is sadly expected that further similar cases will open in the future.

Such incidents like these are far from isolated, however. Indeed, there have been dozens of cases worldwide in which mesothelioma has been linked to asbestos, specifically in ash following fires.

Such a high incidence of the disease should simply motivate your organisation all the more to invest in asbestos air testing if asbestos has been disturbed or exposure through damaged asbestos is presumed, of the kind that we can offer here at Trident Surveying.

Asbestos Action charity holds 13th annual conference

JUAC

The team at charity Asbestos Action recently held their 13th annual conference in Dundee, Scotland, leading with a theme of “Asbestos is still with us”. The charity, which supports sufferers of asbestos-related disease as well as their families and carers, aimed with the conference to quash perceptions that asbestos was a remnant of the past affecting only former heavy industry workers.

Many UK people remain at risk of being exposed to asbestos. Despite the deadly substance being banned from use as a building material in the 1990s, it can still be found in buildings across the country, including many schools.

Keynote speaker Sarah Lyons is a senior officer at the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and a member of the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC), which has been working hard to spread awareness about school-based asbestos.

JUAC campaigns for the safe removal of asbestos from buildings used for educational purposes, with Ms Lyons revealing at the event that 44% of schools were unaware whether asbestos was present in their own buildings. The conference was sponsored by Digby Brown Solicitors, and the firm’s Nina Maxwell and Fraser Simpson talked about the latest challenges concerning the pursuit of civil claims related to asbestos.

Mr Simpson said there needed “to be recognition of the risks that asbestos poses, not just to those employed previously in heavy industry and construction, but also to those exposed to asbestos in our schools, hospitals and elsewhere, and a commitment to doing everything possible to eliminate those risks.”

If you are concerned that your school, college or business premises might contain asbestos, please get in touch with Trident Surveying today. We are a UKAS accredited asbestos testing service that can confirm whether asbestos is present in your building via asbestos air testing and other procedures.

The laboratory that we use to test materials found during the surveying process is a state-of-the-art facility, where we conduct detailed examinations by stereo microscope. Trident Surveying has an Edinburgh office, which better enables us to cater for all manner of Scottish businesses and organisations seeking to protect the health of employees or students and prevent future asbestos-related tragedies. Call our friendly and professional team today to find out more.

Royal Shrewsbury Hospital ‘asbestos exposure’ investigated

 

Asbestos awareness

Confirmation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that it is investigating claims of asbestos putting workers at risk at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital is also confirmation of what every conscientious business owner knows: that one can ever be too diligent in safeguarding against their staff being exposed to this lethal substance.

Prospective and current recipients of asbestos awareness training like that provided by Trident Surveying will take an interest in this news, which concerns remodelling work that took place at the hospital in 2012. Les Small, then hospital project manager, told senior bosses that year of his belief that the construction process had involved damage to asbestos panels.

He was dismissed from his job after this disclosure, an employment tribunal later finding in his favour. Mr Small said that during his time as a capital projects manager at the hospital, when work was underway to convert staff residential units into offices, he had suggested to his line managers that damaged materials surrounding some pipes was asbestos. He raised the issue again about a month later and asked why no action was being taken, at which point he was dismissed.

The tribunal, however, later stated that his sacking was attributable to his making a public interest disclosure, and therefore ruled unfair dismissal.

Wellington, Telford resident Mr Small said: “I don’t know how many people could have been exposed. All I know is there were people going in and out. Not only were they exposing themselves to asbestos whilst in the flat, there were no washing facilities, no changing facilities. Every time they left the flats… that was every chance there was asbestos fibres on clothing.”

The 58-year old welcomed the news of the HSE investigation, pointing out the importance of any incidents of possible asbestos exposure being officially noted for the future. Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust’s director of corporate governance, Julia Clarke, said that it was “co-operating fully with the HSE”.

Such a sad story certainly demonstrates once again how crucial a role the right asbestos awareness training could have for the safety of any organisation’s employees. Indeed, the law dictates that employees and contractors who are liable to be subject to asbestos exposure during any normal work must be given adequate information, instruction and training by their employer.

That is just one reason among many to get in touch with Trident Surveying today about asbestos awareness training that could make a big difference to the safety of your own firm’s workplace.

Asbestos remains prevalent in British school buildings

Asbestos in schools

It seems that every day or week, a new story emerges drawing attention to the fact that asbestos is far from a thing of the past, and that it is in fact continuing to be breathed in by new victims. One such story was that recently published in the Daily Express, revealing that almost nine in every 10 British school buildings still harbour the potentially fatal fibres.

The figures, which will be of great interest to many of those educational and other organisations contemplating investment in asbestos air testing and awareness training, were sourced from Freedom of Information requests to local authorities. They showed that the lethal dust is still present in 86 per cent of the country’s schools, which is much higher than previously thought.

However, leading asbestos expert Professor Julian Peto warned that it would be too expensive to remove all of the fibres, given that such a task would entail rebuilding schools and would “only save” 25 deaths a year. He added that it would be predominantly those over the age of 70 who would die as a result of any exposure during childhood.

The figures were obtained by campaigning group Asbestos in Schools, with founder Michael Lees accusing successive governments of brushing the issue “under the carpet” given the decades that it can take for the disease to develop. He bemoaned the “large number” of children who were exposed to asbestos in schools, which he said was “contributing to the terrible death toll.”

Father-of-two Mr Lees lost his then 51-year old primary school teacher wife, Gina, to the deadly asbestos-linked disease of the covering of the lungs, mesothelioma, in 2000. He described as “a step in the right direction” a review last week that ordered that teachers should be given compulsory asbestos training.

Of the 2,535 deaths a year in Britain that are attributed to mesothelioma, it is thought that 300 involved exposure to asbestos in schools.

Talk to Trident Surveying today about not just the appropriate asbestos awareness training for your own organisation, but also the most professional asbestos air testing and monitoring service. The latter encompasses four stage clearance testing, reassurance air tests, leak air tests and background air tests.

New Asbestos Awareness Initiative

Asbetsos awareness

 

Report prompts government’s new asbestos awareness initiative

A new survey conducted by Censuswide for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has further affirmed the importance of asbestos surveying by shedding light on the often misunderstood dangers and prevalence of asbestos exposure, prompting a new safety campaign geared towards fighting the danger and increasing employee awareness.

The initiative was launched by Health and Safety Minister Mark Harper, who has stated: “The number dying every year from asbestos related-diseases is unacceptably high. Despite being banned in the construction industry, asbestos exposure remains a very serious risk to tradespeople. This safety campaign is about highlighting the risks and easy measures people can take to protect themselves.”

The survey uncovered the fact that tradespeople working in fields such as interior decoration, construction, carpentry and many more were being exposed to asbestos more than one hundred times a year, and that their awareness of its prevalence and dangers was shockingly rudimentary.

Disclosing the pervasiveness of such myths as the idea that opening windows and drinking a glass of water would offer such tradespeople substantial protection, the research reported that less than one third of individuals polled could identify the correct safety measures for working around asbestos.

More than half were reported to make potentially fatal mistakes while believing themselves to be acting correctly. It was ultimately concluded that a shocking average of 20 tradespeople succumb to asbestos related diseases every week. The number of people suffering from asbestos-related disabilities is sure to be just as concerning.

The asbestos surveying services provided by Trident Surveying exist to minimise the personal, financial, and legal risks for you and your employees. Asbestos can be found in a host of household areas, and fibres can be easily disturbed by basic work. Once breathed in, these fibres can have lethal results, causing diseases like lung disease and mesothelioma – an aggressive cancer of the chest cavity, outer lung, and abdominal insides.

Asbestos exposure profoundly threatens the health of you and your employees. With increased governmental input aiming to improve public awareness, the legal costs of failing to protect employees is set to grow and grow, meaning that both your firm’s financial and physical wellbeing could be at risk. Contact Trident Surveying to organise your asbestos surveying today, in order to protect yourself for tomorrow.

 

 

 

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