A leading Clydebank charity has joined leading industrial disease and asbestos lawyers in welcoming MP calls for a deadline on the removal of asbestos from schools and public buildings.
But Clydebank Asbestos Group (CAG) has urged the UK Government to act “swiftly” after being told the removal could take up to 40 years.
Last week, the Work and Pensions Select Committee said asbestos remained the biggest cause of work-related deaths in the UK, with the Health and Safety Executives estimating that asbestos may still be present in 300,000 non-domestic buildings and in many more homes.
Following a 10-month House of Commons inquiry, the Committee advised the Government to commit to remove all asbestos from public and commercial buildings within 40 years.
A Spokesperson for CAG said: “Our charity has supported asbestos and their victims and their families for over 30 years, and we very much welcome the call from MPs to eradicate asbestos from all workplaces.
“This is a step in the right direction. Nobody should be at risk of asbestos exposure and the only way to remove risk is eradication.
“We hope the MP’s recommendations are acted on swiftly, no time should be wasted on this public health issue.”
This echoed similar calls from asbestos illness lawyer Anthony Waddington, who said: “This is a positive step in the right direction, but 40 years is still too long for those who work, live and learn in schools and other public buildings to continue to live under such threat of exposure.
“Over the years we have represented dozens of people who have suffered because of exposure to the deadly material, including people who came into contact with it while in hospitals, infant schools, council flats and even local libraries.
“As the evidence shows, this is not just an illness that is isolated to heavy industrial sectors, and it is not just an illness that afflicts the elderly. Many of our clients are in their 30s and 40s, and many do not live more than a year or so after diagnosis.
The Committee’s findings coincide with International Workers Memorial Day on Saturday, where the CAG marked a day of remembrance and reflection for those who have been injured or lost their life to asbestos at the town’s Solidarity Square.
Clydebank’s MP Martin Docherty-Hughes spoke at the memorial and said: “The legacy of our industrial past has taken a heavy toll on our working men and women, many of whom are sadly no longer with us. We are fortunate here to have Clydebank Asbestos Group leading the way in giving a voice to those who have been silenced.”
Inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause cancers such as mesothelioma and lung cancer and other serious lung diseases such as asbestosis and pleural thickening.