To: All Branches
Dear Colleagues,
Action Mesothelioma Day Background

Action Mesothelioma Day is a very important date. It is held on the first Friday of July each year to raise awareness about Asbestos-related illnesses, such as Mesothelioma and Asbestosis. The special event also aims to remember those who have died from the condition, and to promote better treatment and care for the victims and their families. People who have been affected by Mesothelioma and other Asbestos-related diseases are encouraged to join events taking place in various parts of the UK on Friday 1st July. Hopefully, this year many people will come together to remember those who have died from Mesothelioma in different parts of the country. Doves will be released at many of these events by the families of those killed by Mesothelioma. Services, Public Meetings or Seminars will then be held with speakers such as distinguished Experts in Asbestos Related Diseases, Asbestos Campaigners, Victims Support Group speakers and Trade Union Officials. The long past history of Asbestos use in the UK and the terrible consequences of that history are clear for all to see.
Asbestos related Cancer Deaths – Statistics 

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) the number of Asbestos related Cancer deaths have continued to increase over recent years which reflect occupational exposures that occurred many years ago because there is a long time lag between exposure in most cases and the onset of the disease. The HSE expects deaths from Mesothelioma to continue to rise for the next four to five years. Asbestos was used very extensively all the way up to 1999 when it was finally banned in the UK so we have quite a stock of buildings with asbestos-containing materials in them. As well as people working in construction and related industries, Mesothelioma has claimed the lives of women who inhaled Asbestos dust as they washed their husband’s work clothes.
The tragic legacy of Asbestos means that someone dies every five hours in the UK and the World Health Organisation reports that Asbestos-related lung cancer, Mesothelioma and Asbestosis from occupational exposures results in well over 100,000 deaths a year worldwide.
5,000 people in the UK will die each year as a direct result of being exposed to Asbestos at some time in their lives. This figure is expected to rise to 10,000 a year by 2020 unless effective preventative treatment can be found. At present no effective treatment or cure exists. Those affected are workers from a wide range of industries and occupations. In the past Construction workers, Railway workers and Ship yard workers were exposed in large numbers. People who have lived near Asbestos Factories in the past and families of workers who have unintentionally brought the deadly dust home on their work clothes and overalls have been affected.
With 100,000 tonnes of Asbestos containing materials still in buildings built before 2000, those Tradesmen e.g. Buildings Maintenance workers, Plumbers, Electricians, Joiners, Gas fitters, Heating and Ventilation Engineers, IT and Telecommunications workers and others – working on and maintaining the buildings or carrying out alterations or installations etc., are the ones at risk today if safety precautions are not followed.
There is no safe threshold of exposure to asbestos fibres the report confirms, meaning that inhalation of small quantities, even over a short period, can lead to mesothelioma decades after exposure. Mesothelioma normally has a latency period of around 30–40 years.
The Health and Safety Executive estimates that the number of deaths from mesothelioma is likely to continue to increase until around 2020 and before declining. The HSE estimates that 1.3 million tradespeople are at risk of exposure to Asbestos, and they could come into contact with deadly Asbestos on average more than 100 times a year.
UK Mesothelioma Rate – Highest in the World

According to the World Health Organisation, Britain has the highest mesothelioma rate in the world, at 17.8 deaths per million of population.

Mesothelioma is a rare and incurable form of cancer, caused almost exclusively through the inhalation and retention of Asbestos fibres. The condition mostly affects those individuals who worked within roles that involved the use of Asbestos. However, it has also been known to affect individuals who spent many years employed within an Asbestos-contaminated environment. (See attached CWU “About Mesothelioma” Fact Sheet).
Types of Asbestos 

There are three main types of Asbestos – Blue, Brown and White. Blue is the most toxic but no type is safe. Many are still ignorant of the Dangers of Asbestos and the Cancers it can cause. At least three other types of Asbestos exist but were less commonly used. Fibres lay dormant in the lining of the Lungs or abdomen and the slow growing Cancer symptoms can appear 15 to 50 years after exposure has taken place. As Asbestos was thought of as a ‘miracle fibre’ because of its strong resistance to heat, fire and chemicals, it was used in a variety of materials and products in the home and industries throughout the UK, such as Building and Electrical Insulation and mixed with Cement, until the importation was finally banned.
The Asbestos Ban 

In the UK, Blue and Brown Asbestos materials were banned outright in 1985 while the import, sale and second hand reuse of White Asbestos was outlawed in 1999 by the Tony Blair led Labour Government
UK Asbestos Legislation and Controls 

The Tony Blair led Labour Government also introduced the 2006, updated to 2012 Control of Asbestos Regulations, which state that owners of non-domestic buildings (e.g., factories and offices) have a “duty to manage” asbestos on the premises by making themselves aware of its presence and ensuring the material does not deteriorate, removing it if necessary. Employers, e.g. construction companies, whose operatives may come into contact with Asbestos must also provide annual asbestos training to their workers. The European Union banned all types of utilisation of Asbestos from 1st January 2005.
The Asbestos Legacy 

Today Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK and is a damming indictment of previous negligence as its dangers were known long before it was banned. The first documented death related to asbestos was in 1906. In the early 1900s researchers began to notice a large number of early deaths and lung problems in Asbestos mining towns. The first diagnosis of Asbestosis was made in the UK in 1924. By the 1930s, the UK regulated ventilation and made Asbestosis an excusable work-related disease, followed by the U.S about ten years later. The term Mesothelioma was first used in medical literature in 1931. Its association with Asbestos was first noted sometime in the 1940s.
Modern Day Asbestos Producers 

In spite of the known toxicity of Asbestos, in 2009, 2 million tonnes of Asbestos was mined worldwide. The Russian Federation was the largest producer with about 50% world share followed by China (14%), Brazil (12.5%), Kazakhstan (10.5%) and Canada (9%). In late 2011, Canada’s remaining two Asbestos mines, both located in the Province of Quebec, halted operations. In September 2012, the newly elected government in the Province of Quebec followed through with an election promise to halt Asbestos mining. The CWU actively supported Trade Union colleagues and Asbestos campaigners in Canada to successfully lobby for cessation of Asbestos production in Canada.
Asbestos in Schools 

In 2012, the Department of Education revealed that its “best estimate” was that more than three-quarters of schools contained Asbestos. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health said the presence of lethal dust fibres in school buildings was a “national scandal”. In a report, it warned that 75 per cent of state schools are exposing children, teachers and other staff to the carcinogenic material. It comes after more than 140 teachers died from the Asbestos-related cancer Mesothelioma in the past 10 years, with research in the US suggesting over 100 people will die every year in the UK because of exposure at school.
MPs along with the Asbestos In Schools (AiS) Group which includes MPs, Teaching and Support Staff, Trade Unions, Asbestos consultants, Solicitors, Doctors, Local Authorities, Asbestos Victims Support Groups, Health and Safety campaigning organisations, the Independent Schools Bursars Association and individuals affected by the devastating effects of Asbestos exposure in schools are now campaigning on the Government to introduce a programme to clear the material from Schools. This brings into stark reality the risks to millions of school children from asbestos in the nation’s schools. The CWU has, wherever possible, given support to our colleague Trade Unions in their fight for safer schools and for effective management, monitoring and removal of Asbestos from schools.
TUC Asbestos Eradication Campaign – All Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety & Health Report: “The Asbestos Crisis – Why Britain Needs an Asbestos Eradication Law”      

LTBs 439/15 and 767/15 issued in July and December last year respectively reported to Branches the launch of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) new campaign, fully supported by the CWU, on a new long-term policy objective for the eradication of Asbestos in UK buildings. The TUC believes that the time has come to put in place regulations requiring the safe, phased and planned removal of all the asbestos that still remains in place across Britain. Only that way can we ensure that future generations will not have to experience the same deadly epidemic from asbestos-related diseases that we suffer today. If we are to protect future generations from the risk of exposure to this deadly fibre, we need a new law on asbestos with a clear timetable for the eradication of asbestos in every single workplace in Britain. The TUC is calling for new legislation requiring all employers to address the issue by doing a full survey of all asbestos in the workplace by no later than 2022, and then ensuring the removal of all asbestos by 2035. In the case of public buildings and educational establishments, this should be done by 2028. The first stage was to take the Campaign to the House of Commons and seek cross-party support for the campaign in order to press the government to take action through its legislative programme. We also can’t ignore the fact that we have in place an anti-Trade Union, anti-Health and Safety Tory government that will be very difficult to convince. However, hopefully this administration won’t be in power forever and the narrow majority the current government has, gives some possible hope for progress. The TUC, CWU and all affiliated Trade Unions in the UK support new legislation to put in place a long-term plan for the removal of asbestos from UK buildings, meaning better control of asbestos, better registry of its location and eventually the total removal of it. It would essentially affect those not complying with the Asbestos Control Laws who are not surveying buildings as legally required and are not registering asbestos locations in the buildings that they own, lease and manage. If those who manage buildings are not controlling and registering asbestos within their buildings then those who live in, work in or work on the building are being put in danger.
The TUC, CWU and a number of Trade Unions lobbied the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Occupational Safety and Health on the matter and the All Party Group agreed that to support the campaign and agreed to produce an APPG Report entitled “The asbestos crisis – Why Britain needs an – eradication law”. The Report is based on the TUC proposal for the eradication of asbestos from all buildings. The APPG also agreed that this would include the Trade Unions recommendations for:-

• All Buildings to have an asbestos register by 2022,

• All public buildings to have asbestos removed by 2028 and

• All buildings to have it removed by 2035 – In effect a 20 year plan.

The European Parliament has also called for the removal of asbestos from all European public buildings by 2028.

Asbestos Controls – The Legal History Summarised

1931 – First major controls of Asbestos introduced in manufacturing.

1970 – new regulations came into effect that covered other factories that used asbestos.

1985 – some types of asbestos were banned from importation or use.

1988 – most of the processes that led to very heavy exposure, were banned, and the use of asbestos as a major building material ceased.

1999 – the import, supply and use of almost all asbestos was finally banned.

2004 – Employers specific duty to manage existing asbestos introduced.

2006 – all existing Asbestos Regulations consolidated and brought together into one single set of regulations.

2012 – the 2006 regulations we updated and apply today requiring inspections, monitoring containment or removal if necessary..
Action Mesothelioma Day Events 

Attached are details of 2016 Action Mesothelioma Day events in various locations notified to the H,S&E Dept. Other events will be taking place and local enquiries should be made for information, locations, times and venues.
Listed below are the contact details of Asbestos Victim Support Groups from around the UK who work and campaign individually and collectively together under the “Forum of Asbestos Victim Support Groups”, the Co-ordinating body. Around 20 Regional Groups will be organising or supporting events across the country and those Reps wishing to attend events can contact their local group for information. They are also listed below.
Asbestos related diseases 

Embedded asbestos fibres irritate the lung tissue around them, causing a number of diseases:

• Pleural disease

Inflammation and irritation of the outer lining of the lung, the pleura. The pleura stiffens and thickens widely (diffuse thickening) or in patches (plaques), and can fill with fluid. This thickening can restrict breathing.

• Asbestosis

This is scarring of the lungs: the airways become so inflamed and scarred that oxygen is no longer able to pass from the lungs into the blood. The lungs become stiff and inelastic, making breathing progressively difficult. Symptoms include tightness in the chest, dry cough, and in the later stages, a bluish tinge to the skin caused by lack of oxygen. Asbestosis is usually seen in former asbestos miners, asbestos manufacturing workers and insulation workers, and usually takes a decade or more to develop.

• Lung cancer

Exposure to asbestos fibres greatly increases a person’s risk of developing lung cancer, particularly if they are also a smoker.

• Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the pleura. It typically grows quickly and spreads widely before symptoms appear, making its early diagnosis and effective treatment very difficult. The average survival time after diagnosis is only 6-18 months. A very small exposure to asbestos can be enough to trigger the cancer, however, only a small percentage of people exposed to asbestos develop mesothelioma. There may be a lag of 20 to 40 years after asbestos exposure before mesothelioma results.
Basic Advice 

Employers are legally bound to survey, identify and manage or remove Asbestos- containing materials in their buildings and those employing workers must find out if Asbestos-containing materials are present and plan the work to avoid disturbing these materials and exposing workers. Workers should stop and ask if they are unsure or are suspicious that something may be Asbestos or if you think the work might need to be carried out by a licensed contractor. They should follow the plan of work and work method statement and safe system of work making sure they have been properly trained and informed before they start. Further detailed information and advice is available from the CWU HQ Health, Safety & Environment Department, Health and Safety Executive and Local Authority Environmental Health Departments.
CWU Solicitors 

The Unions Solicitors deal with cases when individuals seek Asbestos compensation, often these are the result of poor working conditions, where an environment was not safe from risks and employers failed to provide adequate protection, nor warn the workers about the dangers of Asbestos exposure. It is shocking to think how easily workers suffering from Asbestos related diseases could have been avoided. Exposure to Asbestos can be deadly, and we urge anyone who feels they may have been exposed to consult their GP immediately and contact the Union for legal representation. The CWU’s Solicitors have a wealth of knowledge and expertise relating to Asbestos claims, priding themselves on the provision of first-class legal advice and support – regularly providing advice to those seeking Asbestos-related illness compensation. For further information contact the CWU HQ Legal Services Dept.
Contacts & Further Information
• Mesothelioma UK – Freephone Helpline: 0800 1692409 (Mon-Fri 08:30 – 16:30)

A national resource centre dedicated to providing specialist Mesothelioma information, support & improved care and treatment.

• British Lung Foundation – Freephone Helpline: 03000 030 555 (Mon-Fri 9am to 5pm)

The BLF is a charity that promotes lung health and supports those affected by lung disease. It offers information, advice and support on a number of lung conditions and subjects including travel and transport, oxygen, equipment, welfare benefits, as well as many other issues.

• Forum of Asbestos Victim Support Groups 

          T: 0161 636 7555 


• Asbestos Action Tayside (covering East of Scotland) 

          Ground Floor, Royal Exchange Building, Panmure Street, Dundee, DD1 1DU

          T: 01382 225715


• Asbestos Awareness and Support Cymru (Covering Wales)

          Manteg, Penslade, Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, SA65 9PB

          T: 02920 363550

• Asbestos Support West Midlands

          138 Digbeth, Birmingham, B5 6DR

          T: 0121 678 8853

• Bradford Asbestos Victims Support Group

          Unison Offices

          2nd Floor, Auburn House, Upper Piccadilly , Bradford BD1 3NU

          T: 01274 393949

• Cheshire Asbestos Victims Support Group

          3 Fryer Street, Runcorn, Cheshire WA7 1ND

          T: 01928 576641

• Clydebank Asbestos Group

          8 Crown Avenue, Radnor Park , Clydebank, G8 3BW

          T: 0141 951 1008

• Clydeside Action on Asbestos

          15 St Margaret’s Place, Glasgow G1 5GY.

          T: 0141 552 8852

• Cumbria and North Lancashire Asbestos Victim Support Group (CARDS)

          C/o Hospice of St Mary of Furness

          Ford Park, Ulverston, Cumbria, LA12 7JP

          T: 01229 580305 ext.32

• Derbyshire Asbestos Support Team (DAST)

          DAST, 34 Glumangate, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, S40 1TX

          T: 01246 380415

• Greater Manchester Victims Support Group

          Windrush Millennium Centre, Unit 2.5

          70 Alexandra Road , Moss Side, Manchester , M16 7WD

          T: 0161 953 4037

• Hampshire Asbestos Support & Awareness Group (HASAG )

          79 Radstock Road, Woolston, Southampton, Hampshire, SO19 2HT

          T: 02380 010015 / 02380 010016

          E: or

• Merseyside Asbestos Victims Support Group

          Suite 32 , Second Floor , Oriel Chambers, 14 Water Street , Liverpool L2 8TD

          T: 0151 236 1895 E:

• The Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund

          Established in conjunction with the British Lung Foundation.

          It aims to promote a greater awareness into mesothelioma, raise £100,000 to 

          fund vital research into the disease through the British Lung Foundation.

          T: 0191 2630276 E:

• Northeast Asbestos Support & Awareness Group

          Trade Union Centre, 119/121 Marton Road, Middlesbrough, Cleveland TS1 2DU

          T: 01642 240044 E:;

• Northern Region Asbestos Support and Campaign Group

          Wallsend People’s Centre, 10 Frank Street, Wallsend, NE28 6RN


• Sheffield And Rotherham Asbestos Group (SARAG)

          SARAG, The RAIN Building, Eastwood Lane, Rotherham S65 1EQ

          T: 01709 360 672 E:

• June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund

          Raises research funds, provides information on mesothelioma and assistance.

          The June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund, Riverside East, 2 Millsands,

          Sheffield S3 8DT Email: Tel: 0114 274 4420

• CWU “About Mesothelioma” Fact Sheet

• 2016 Action Mesothelioma Day events

• “The asbestos crisis – Why Britain needs an – eradication law”.
Yours sincerely


Dave Joyce

National Health, Safety & Environment Officer
Email Attachments – Click to download
LTB 391/16 Action Mesothelioma Day 1st July 2016

Att. 1

Att. 2

Att. 3


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