A new report by the Health and Safety Executive recently revealed that 1.3 million tradesmen are at risk from dangers of asbestos and an average of 20 tradesmen die every week from asbestos related diseases. 

Construction workers and tradesmen including carpenters, electricians, plumbers and painters could come into contact with asbestos more than an estimated 100 times a year, with few workers knowing whether the deadly material is present in buildings which they are working on.

This is according to a report which has lead the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to launch a new safety and awareness campaign amid concerns about how to combat exposure to asbestos. A survey of 500 tradespeople showed that less than a third were aware of the correct ways to deal with and handle asbestos in the workplace.

Worryingly only 15% knew that asbestos could still be found in buildings built up to the year 2000. White asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999 meaning that its use did not cease completely until the year 2000 when the final stocks of asbestos products had been used.

Trademen are and will always be the highest at risk of asbestos exposure. Workers involved in refurbishment, maintenance and other similar trades especially.

This includes professions such as:

  • Heating and ventilation engineers
  • Demolition workers
  • Carpenters and joiners
  • Plumbers
  • Roofing contractors
  • Painters and decorators
  • Plasterers
  • Construction workers
  • Fire and burglar alarm installers
  • Shop fitters
  • Gas fitters
  • Computer and data installers
  • General maintenance staff eg caretakers
  • Telecommunications engineers
  • Architects, building surveyors, and other such professionals
  • Cable layers
  • Electricians

If you do find asbestos during a project, please do not remove this yourself. It is important that you contact a licensed asbestos removal company straight away. This will not only protect you but also everyone in the surrounding area, these companies are fully trained and know the legal way of disposing asbestos.

Our info graphic shows the shocking statistics for Tradesmen who were born in the 1940’s and have had more than 10 years worth of experience in their industry.


Copy of High Risk Occupations (1)

We were contacted by the personal representative to the estate of Mr G, who sadly passed away from mesothelioma on 10th May 2006. Mr G was regularly exposed to asbestos when working for East Kirkby Engineering Co Limited in Lincolnshire between 1964 and 1996.

We were contacted after Mr G’s death and therefore needed to obtain evidence relating to his past exposure to asbestos from a colleague who worked alongside Mr G for 6 years during the 1980’s. Both were employed as heating engineers and the witness confirmed that Mr G would have regular cause to clean out flues, stand on lagging which covered calorifiers and also had to regularly chip off asbestos lagging as part of their duties in order to attend to leak repairs and other problems.

We successfully recovered £105,000.00 from the East Kirkby Engineering Co Limited’s insurers for the deceased’s widow.

This case is another example of how it is possible to succeed in a claim for asbestos disease compensation without a statement from the person who sadly passed away from a compensatable condition. Providing the deceased spoke with family members about his exposure or even better still, if statements can be obtained from their former work colleagues, then claims of this type can be successful.



Maintaining electrical systems requires a sound skill and knowledge of a building. This is especially important when it comes to repairing wiring within a remodelled building that was built using asbestos. Electrical products found in houses built before the mid 1980’s would have been built using asbestos.

For example, old wiring could contain felted asbestos insulation and circuit breakers used to have older arc chutes that contained asbestos plastic moulding compound. The installation of new wiring saw many electricians uncover asbestos in the walls during the drilling of new conduits.

This activity is fatal for electricians as the vibrations of the drill creates a disturbance causing it to release the fibres into the air in the form of dust…and into the lungs. You must always ensure you have the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) when performing a job in case of asbestos exposure.

Asbestos Related Disease Deaths between 2002-2010: 670 This high proportion of death is likely to have been caused by a lack of protection and awareness of asbestos throughout their careers. Copy of High Risk Occupations (4)

Source: Asbestorama/Flickr. From left to right – High Voltage Cables with Asbestos Insulation Wrappings, GE Asbestos Fibers in Electrical Arc Chute, Woven Asbestos Cable Wrap Insulation.



Like electricians, plumbers, heating and ventilation engineers were frequently exposed to asbestos throughout their career between the 1940’s and 80’s.

Using asbestos as insulation for hot pipes or helping to prevent condensation on boilers, tanks, ducts, pipes and more. Materials that contained asbestos would have been products such as pumps, valves and gaskets, all of which require replacing after a period of time. Replacing these would cause the release of asbestos fibres into the air.

Activities throughout the job that caused release of asbestos fibres included sawing, soldering and joining pipes or sanded down block insulation, as well as cutting asbestos paper. All of this would be done either without or with insufficient protective equipment, giving the asbestos an easy route into the lungs.

Asbestos Related Disease Deaths between 2002-2010: 414

Copy of High Risk Occupations (5)

Source: Asbestorama/Flickr. From left to right – Pipe Flange Asbestos Gasket – Damage, Damaged Asbestos Insulation from Improper Removal, Asbestos Pipe Valve Insulation



The British Journal of Cancer published in 2009 how one in seventeen carpenters born in the 1940’s will die from mesothelioma. A shocking, yet true statistic.  According to the HSE, Carpenters have had the highest death toll during 2002 and 2010, with 857 men dying from an asbestos related disease.

Above all other occupations, carpenters would have received some of the most concentrated and unavoidable exposure to asbestos. Their job description is to remodel old homes and commercial buildings.

Buildings erected pre-1980’s were built using asbestos, particularly in places such as boiler rooms, kitchen floor tiles and insulated pipes. Throughout restoration projects, carpenters would be required to remove kitchen tiles and ceiling tiles to add asbestos for sound proofing and insulation.

Other activities would include cutting asbestos sheets to the correct sizes and of course created large clouds of asbestos dust during the process. Protection from inhaling asbestos resulted in carpenters wearing a face mask. This however, did nothing to protect workers as the fibres would still cling onto their clothes and hair.

Asbestos Related Disease Deaths between 2002-2010: 857


Source: Asbestorama/Flickr. From left to right – Kentile Asphalt Asbestos Floor Tile – Randome Tones 853 (1957), Asbestos Backing from Vintage Sheet Flooring, Ceiling Tile Asbestos Adhesive – Glue Pods

When am I most at risk?

The Health and Safety Executive have defined the main risk-situations of asbestos exposure for those working in a trade occupation. You are most at risk when:

  • the building you are working on was built before the year 2000
  • you are working on an unfamiliar site
  • asbestos-containing materials were not identified before the job was started
  • asbestos-containing materials were identified but this information was not passed on by the people in charge to the people doing the work
  • you haven’t done a risk assessment
  • you don’t know how to recognise and work safely with asbestos
  • you have not had appropriate information, instruction and training
  • you know how to work safely with asbestos, but you choose to put yourself at risk by not following proper precautions, perhaps to save time or because no one else is following proper procedures

Where can asbestos be found?

Asbestos is a deadly fibre that can be found in many buildings that still remain occupied today, industrial and residential buildings. For residential owners, when it comes to finding a new home or if you live in a home that was built before 2000, be wary of the possibilities of asbestos within the building. It is important that you know if asbestos is present or if it has been completely removed, or in some cases never been present in the first place. Below are two images provided by the Health and Safety Executive showing where asbestos can be found within the home and in industrial buildings.




  1. Sprayed coatings on ceilings, walls, beams and columns
  2. Asbestos cement water tank
  3. Loose fill insulation
  4. Lagging on boilers and pipes
  5. AIB ceiling tiles
  6. Toilet seat and cistern
  7. AIB partition walls
  8. AIB panels in fire doors
  9. Asbestos rope seals, gaskets and paper
  10. Vinyl floor tiles
  11. AIB around boilers
  12. Textiles eg fire blankets
  13. Textured decorating coatings on walls and ceilings eg artex


  1. Asbestos cement roof
  2. Asbestos cement panels
  3. Asbestos cement gutters and downpipes
  4. Soffits – AIB or asbestos cement
  5. Asbestos cement flue

AIB = Asbestos Insulating Board




  1. Asbestos cement Water tank
  2. Pipe lagging
  3. Loose fill insulation
  4. Textured decorative coating eg artex
  5. AIB ceiling tiles
  6. AIB bath panel
  7. Toilet seat and cistern
  8. AIB behind fuse box
  9. AIB airing cupboard and/or sprayed insulation coating boiler
  10. AIB partition wall
  11. AIB interior window panel
  12. AIB around boiler
  13. Vinyl floor tiles
  14. AIB behind fire


  1. Asbestos cement gutters and downpipes
  2. Soffits – AIB or asbestos cement
  3. AIB exterior window panel
  4. Asbestos cement roof
  5. Asbestos cement panels
  6. Roofing felt

AIB = Asbestos Insulating Board

If you or a family member are suffering from an asbestos disease, contact Asbestos Justice on 0800 038 6767 for expert legal advice.

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