Asbestos in shops and protecting shopworkers’ safety

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Many former shopworkers are tragically diagnosed with asbestos diseases, like mesothelioma, years after they were first exposed.

Unfortunately, asbestos is still found in many shops in buildings constructed before the government banned asbestos in 1999. The concern is growing about the risk asbestos poses to public safety.

Last year, a report published by Asbestos Testing and Consultancy Association (ATaC) and the National Organisation of Asbestos Consultants (NORAC) found that 78% of public buildings surveyed contain asbestos. Out of over 700,000 items of asbestos found in buildings, 71% is damaged and is a potential health risk.

Industry bodies and parliamentary groups, such as the Work and Pensions Select Committee, are pushing for drastic improvements in asbestos management and removal to prevent further asbestos disease cases in the future.

Exposure to asbestos in shops

Despite the ban on using asbestos as a building material, asbestos is still present in around 300,000 public buildings built before the year 2000.

Asbestos in shops can be found in floor tiles, ceiling tiles, partition walls, insulation, roof felt, pipe and boiler lagging, toilets, and water tanks.

Asbestos is only dangerous when it is disturbed or damaged. The fear is that the condition of asbestos in public buildings like shops, schools, hospitals, and offices is deteriorating and could lead to more people becoming ill with asbestos-related diseases.

Shop workers may be particularly at risk if they are exposed to asbestos during shop refits or building maintenance and repair work.

Novum Law’s team of specialist asbestos disease solicitors have spoken to former shopworkers who managers asked to continue to serve customers during renovation work, despite the disruption. When the workers were finished, some shop staff had to clean and sweep up the asbestos dust and fibres.

Call for better asbestos management in shops

UKATA, the leading authority on asbestos training, is urging retailers to put the safety of their staff and customers first after a steep rise in the number of high street stores failing to manage asbestos in their premises.

UKATA says that retailers should carry out surveys regularly on premises where asbestos has been found to ensure it has not been damaged or fractured. Any damaged asbestos should be removed to prevent the risk to shopworkers and customers.

Neil Munro from Acorn Analytical Services, a UKATA-approved training provider, said:

“The UK is in the middle of an asbestos epidemic, and the statistics released by ATaC are frightening.

“Asbestos is all around us – in our offices, factories, hospitals, schools, and our high streets – and a number of retailers have received hefty fines recently for not managing their duty of care around asbestos management.

“Many of our towns and cities are dominated by units which were built well before the ban on asbestos was introduced in 1999, and it is essential that retailers and landlords check for the presence of asbestos if they are not sure.”

Novum Law calls for improved asbestos control in shops

Alison Sayers is a specialist asbestos disease lawyer from our Southampton office. She says:

“Asbestos disease is increasing in shopworkers, teachers, nurses, and office workers. Over 20 years since asbestos was banned, cases of ‘white collar’ mesothelioma have been on the rise.

“Now is the time to act to prevent future cases of asbestos disease. Those who manage public buildings, including shop owners, have a duty of care to protect workers. Where asbestos is present, it is a legal requirement to handle it safely within the current regulations.

“We join industry bodies urging retailers to carry out proper asbestos surveys and have a plan for dealing with it.

“As lawyers specialising in helping asbestos victims, we know only too well the pain and devastation asbestos cancers like mesothelioma cause, and we want to see more done to prevent further suffering.”

Have you been diagnosed with asbestos disease after working in a shop?

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos disease after working in a shop, you may be able to claim compensation.

At Novum Law, our expert lawyers have many years of experience securing maximum asbestos compensation on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis. We will support you through every step of your claim so you can access the justice you deserve.

For a FREE, no-obligation chat about how we can help, call us for free on 0800 884 0777, email us at or complete our short enquiry form.

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