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.  

Widow in call for details about late husband’s asbestos exposure

asbestos dust, asbestos exposure, asbestos surveys

In yet another sad reminder of the critical role now played by asbestos surveys in Birmingham, Yorkshire, Teesside and other parts of the United Kingdom, the widow of a Bradford man who was diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer and died only weeks later is calling for his former colleagues to assist by providing information on how he may have come into contact with the fatal fibres.

Jeffrey Rushworth died at the age of 82 on October 31 last year. Most of his working life had been spent as a shopfitter and joiner. In conjunction with asbestos disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, his widow Joan has requested that his one-time workmates get in touch to help with their investigation into how and when he may have breathed in the material over several decades.

Mr Rushworth worked for Makins in Bradford in the 1950s, moving onto Charles Castles – also based in the city – in the 1960s. His employer between 1969 and 1994 was Northern Design, another Bradford company. As explained by Irwin Mitchell’s specialist asbestos lawyer Mark Aldridge, Jeffrey’s diagnosis with the aggressive and incurable mesothelioma cancer arose so late that he was too ill to provide full details of his working life.

Aldridge added that “As a result, we are urging his former colleagues to come forward and answer the many questions that his family have about his exposure and the working conditions he endured, as well as what measures, if any, were in place to protect employees of these firms.”

Mrs Rushworth, 82, now a Bridlington resident, said that the couple had moved to there so that they could enjoy the Yorkshire coastline in their retirement. When her husband first began to show symptoms in early 2014, neither of them knew the cause of his health problems. She urged any of his former colleagues to come forward with information to assist her search for justice regarding his death.

Anyone with any knowledge of the working conditions at any of the firms for which Mr Rushworth worked are urged to get in touch with Mark Aldridge at Irwin Mitchell. Meanwhile, those individuals and organisations in need of asbestos surveys in Birmingham to help to safeguard future generations of workers may wish to contact Trident Surveying for the complete service.

Family of late asbestos victim appeals for information

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Comprehensive asbestos surveys in Birmingham may now thankfully be widespread practice, but that has sadly come too late for many of those to come into contact with the lethal substance. One such person was West Bromwich father-of-four Gary Williams, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in October 2012, before dying in July 2013.

Although mesothelioma – a cancer in the lining of the lungs – is strongly associated with exposure to the deadly dust, his family is still unsure exactly how that occurred, leading his daughter, Claire, to appeal for information from her father’s one-time colleagues at Rugeley Power Station, where he previously worked as a scaffolder.

It was initially the 66-year old himself who instructed Irwin Mitchell’s specialist industrial disease solicitors to investigate whether every possible measure was taken to avoid him coming into contact with asbestos – a fight for justice that Claire has continued on his behalf. She and Irwin Mitchell are requesting that Gary’s former co-workers at the British Building and Engineering Association (BB and EA) between 1965 and 1971 get in touch with them.

Not only is it thought that these workers could possess invaluable evidence concerning the substance’s presence at the various sites where Gary was contracted to work, but they may also be able to provide insight into the company’s working conditions. Gary was handed his devastating diagnosis of terminal disease at a time when the family was still struggling to come to terms with his wife Betty’s sudden death in summer 2012.

Hazardous World War II History Lesson!

World War 2, Asbestos Exposure, Chrysotile, CrocidoliteWe all know the benefits that a prop may bring to a teacher in a history lesson to aid students with the learning process as they get to physically see and feel the item themselves to get a better understanding of what the teacher is explaining. But when the subject is WWII this could be a potentially hazardous subject to both students and teachers, especially if the item of that period is a WWII Mask. Why would a WWII Gas Mask be dangerous?WWII gas masks are potentially dangerous as they can contain and release asbestos fibres. They can also be contaminated with harmful chemicals from previous use in gas drills. In addition some post war gas masks can release asbestos fibres and can be contaminated.Tests have shown that asbestos fibres can be inhaled by wearing the masks. Asbestos fibres can also be released from handling the masks, filters or carrying bag. So why use asbestos in gas masks?After the widespread use of poison gas in the Great War it was expected that gas would also be a major factor in WWII so civilians as well as military personnel were provided with gas masks. How many gas masks were produced and what types of asbestos were used?It is difficult to put an exact number on how many of these asbestos containing gas masks were manufactured but to put it in perspective one company in Blackburn, Lancashire had a contract from the government in 1936 to make 70 million and production continued throughout the war.There were two main types of asbestos used during the manufacture of these gas masks: Chrysotile (white asbestos) for civilian respirators and Crocidolite (blue asbestos) for those equipping the armed forces. The health risks associated with these masks only came to light post-war when factory workers making the masks started showing abnormally high numbers of deaths from cancer. Why is asbestos dangerous?The Health & Safety Executive website warns: “Breathing in air containing asbestos fibres can lead to asbestos-related diseases, mainly cancers of the lungs and chest lining. Asbestos is only a risk to health if asbestos fibres are released into the air and breathed in. Past exposure to asbestos currently kills around 4,000 people a year in Great Britain. This number is expected to go on rising at least until 2016.There is no cure for asbestos-related diseases. There is usually a long delay between first exposure to asbestos and the onset of disease. This can vary from 15 to 60 years.” What should a school or a collector do if they own one of these Asbestos containing Gas Masks?The local authority should be contacted for advice on how to safely dispose of the masks, filters and the canvas bags. In 2004 the Imperial War Museum had issued the following guidance to their staff:“Most British gas masks of WW2 vintage have asbestos (blue and/or white) as a component in their filters …Where unsure, it should be assumed that the filters do contain asbestos until proven otherwise. The filters may, in any case, contain other respiratory irritants. Thus no gas mask of WW2 vintage should ever be worn.…Note:There is a further health and safety issue with gas masks that have been exposed to chemicals eg used in ‘live’ gas tests and drills. Such gas masks should not be handled and should not go on display. They should be sealed in polyethylene bags (at least two layers) or an airtight inert container. This should be carried out in a fume cupboard, whilst wearing latex or nitrile gloves and a lab coat. The gloves should be disposed of and the lab coat disposed of/laundered after use. The enclosures should be labelled to indicate that they contain materials that are potentially hazardous and should not be opened. Any further enclosures that they are placed into, eg boxes, should be appropriate labelled as described above.

Contractor fined for exposing workers to Asbestos

A Decorating and Refurbishment contractor has been fined for exposing employees, agency staff and members of the public to asbestos.In 2009 a refurbishment project was undertaken over several weeks at Sentinel House, Nuffield Industrial, Poole by MJC Decorating and Refurbishing Ltd.During the project the contractor began removing ceilings at the two story block without carrying out a suitable asbestos survey in advance to determine whether asbestos was present. The appropriate survey prior to any works being carried out would have been the asbestos Refurbishment Survey.When visiting the site the HSE Inspector found widespread asbestos contamination both inside and outside the building. Investigations also revealed that some of the other material that had been removed from the site may have been asbestos containing but may have been treat as non hazardous material.As a result of the contractors actions four employees and fourteen agency staff working under the control of the contractor had been exposed to the dangerous asbestos fibres.It took over two weeks for the MJC Contractors to remove the asbestos insulation board (AIB) ceiling. During this period the contractors were only wearing normal clothing and face masks if worn at all.MJC Decorating and Refurbishing Ltd, of London Road, North Cheam, Sutton, Surrey, pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations. It was fined a total of £45,000 and ordered to pay £36,943 in costs.Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector, Helena Tinton, said:”This was a very serious incident which carries severe risks for people’s health.”MJC’s safety failings led to the needless exposure to dangerous asbestos fibres of its employees, agency staff and the wider public. The firm didn’t carry out a suitable survey for asbestos material before the work started and failed to provide protection for workers on site.”Regulations on dealing safely with asbestos have been in place for many years and are widely known in the industry.”This totally needless incident would not have happened if MJC had carried out proper assessments.”This once again highlights the importance of following the correct procedures and ensuring that an asbestos survey has been carried out to locate any possible asbestos containing materials. After all it is the law.asbestos dust, asbestos exposure, asbestos surveys

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