Carpenters urged to be aware of asbestos dangers

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Many of us think of asbestos as something from the past. But thousands of people are still at risk from dangerous asbestos exposure even though it was banned nearly 25 years ago.

Today carpenters are particularly at risk from asbestos exposure due to working on many renovation projects in older buildings, including offices and homes.

In the UK housing industry alone, over £21 billion was spent on home renovations in 2021 as householders decided to modernise and do up their properties.

Older buildings constructed before the 1980s often contain asbestos insulation, and other fireproof and soundproof materials consisting of asbestos. These include ceiling and floor tiles, fire doors, and fascias and soffits.

How are carpenters exposed to asbestos during renovations?

During renovations and refurbishments, carpenters must cut away old asbestos-containing insulation, drywall, and tiles to replace with more modern, safer building materials.

Unfortunately, when old asbestos-containing products are cut or disturbed in any way, dangerous asbestos dust is released into the air and on to carpenters and other workers themselves.

Asbestos dust and fibres are then inhaled or ingested, causing severe health problems many years later (sometimes up to 50 or 60 years after the exposure). Diseases caused by asbestos exposure include asbestosis, mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer and pleural thickening.

According to research in the USA, carpenters who worked extensively with common asbestos construction products in the past are 34 times more likely to develop mesothelioma than the general population.

While today’s carpenters face significantly less risks than carpenters in the past, they are still at risk from old construction materials and must take steps to protect themselves and those around them.

What asbestos products should carpenters be aware of?

Carpenters working on building renovations and refurbishment projects must be careful when cutting and dismantling asbestos products and older building materials including:

  • Asbestos sheets, boards, and panels
  • Sprayed coatings on ceilings, walls, and beams
  • Floor tiles, textiles, and composites
  • Insulating boards
  • Roofing felt
  • Asbestos cement and adhesives, including caulking putty
  • Lagging
  • Drywall

How should carpenters protect themselves from asbestos?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has a lot of useful information for carpenters and other tradespeople on how to work safely with products containing asbestos.

It advises workers to make sure they work safely by taking appropriate precautions when carrying out any work that could disturb asbestos. These include:

  • Stopping work and speaking to your employer, or the building owner if you are suspicious something may be asbestos or if you think the work might need to be carried out by a licensed contractor
  • Following the plan of work and the HSE essentials guidance sheets; making sure you use the right sheet for the job
  • Using your protective equipment, including a suitable face mask, worn properly
  • Cleaning up as you go to stop waste building up
  • Making sure waste is double-bagged and is disposed of properly at a licensed tip
  • Washing before breaks and before going home
  • Checking whether the work should be notified
  • Making sure you have had adequate training before you start work

The HSE also outlines the sets of UK regulations which cover work with all types of asbestos-containing materials, and the duties on ‘duty holders’, employers and the self-employed.

Compensation for carpenters with asbestos disease

Carpenters who are diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases have the right to file legal claims.

Families can also make asbestos compensation claims when they lose loved ones to mesothelioma or other serious asbestos diseases.

Specialist asbestos disease solicitor Andrew Stinchcombe from Novum Law’s Bristol team says:

“We have helped many carpenters, including carpenters who have long since retired and families of former carpenters to claim asbestos compensation.

“While we are all far more aware of the dangers of asbestos exposure these days and carpenters today are at far less risk than their counterparts of yesteryear, the rise in renovation work in the older building infrastructure could put more carpenters and workers in danger.

“It’s vital that carpenters wear protective equipment and take appropriate steps to reduce risks and follow the latest advice from the Health and Safety Executive.”

Contact Novum Law for asbestos compensation advice

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos disease you typically have 3 years to start an asbestos compensation claim after your diagnosis, or after the date of your loved one’s death.

At Novum Law, we offer ‘No Win, No Fee’ asbestos compensation and have a kind, supportive, caring team that will guide you through every step of your claim from start to finish.

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

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