No Time to Lose for Roofing Contractors
Here at D-marc we’ve warned our readers in the past of the dangers of asbestos and asbestos containing materials (ACMs) which is of particular concern to those who work within the roofing industry here in the UK. Whilst we’re hyper-aware of the dangers involved in working at height, those who work on repairing and replacing roofs are amongst the tradespeople most at risk of exposure to hazardous asbestos, silica dust and other carcinogens in the workplace. Research shows that cancer resulting from the workplace claims a massive 742,000 lives around the world each year and the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), the world’s largest organisation for health and safety professionals, launched its No Time to Lose (NTTL) campaign in order to raise awareness of this issue and provide advice and guidance on how employers and health and safety professionals can deliver effective prevention programmes for the workforce.
The National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) is one of the major signatories to the campaign pledge and distributed NTTL-NFRC co-branded pocket cards for roofers at the first annual NFRC Contractors’ Day Exhibition in Twickenham Stadium at the end of the November. IOSH’s survey of construction workers which was commissioned for the asbestos phase of NTTL revealed that a third of respondents have never checked an asbestos register before starting to work on a new site and half of those surveyed were not aware of the existence of the register!
The survey resulted in some disturbing findings as 20% of those responding revealed that they would not be clear on what steps to take should they discover asbestos. Moreover, almost a quarter of construction workers in the UK believe they may have been exposed to asbestos fibres in the past which makes them more at risk of contracting terminal cancers later on in life. At present, more than 20 tradesmen die each week from asbestos related diseases so the No Time To Lose campaign really does have NO time to lose on addressing this issue.
When it comes to roofing professionals, the Contractors’ Day asbestos presentation highlighted the fact that only a small number of roofing industry professionals in attendance were able to identify with confidence where ACMs might be found in a building. This is a clear indication that a significant knowledge gap exists that will need to be overcome in order to make the necessary changes and improvements that will enable construction and roofing workers to carry out their jobs safely.
Some of the most common challenges cited when it comes to training on asbestos included providing training that is relevant to the candidate, the limited time available for training, budget and the availability of training geographically.
The No Time To Lose website is a great first stop when it comes to sourcing information on asbestos and taking action on this as a business owner. There is a powerful campaign film available on the website and business owners can also request information packs that can be used to educate managers, colleagues, friends and family on the dangers of occupational cancer.