Asbestos cancer deaths in Great Britain stay high

Deaths linked to just one asbestos cancer are remaining around the high mark of over 2,500 cases each year, despite Health and Safety Executive (HSE) predictions that a sharp decline would start years ago.

The new figures show that 2,544 people died from the disease in 2020. This was 6 per cent higher than the 2,404 deaths in 2019.

It is broadly in line with the 2,523 average annual mesothelioma deaths figure over the eight year period from 2012 to 2019. The 2020 figure is the highest since the all-time high of 2,606 mesothelioma deaths was reported in 2016.

In the wake of the report’s publication, the Health and Safet4y Executive announced schools in England, Scotland and Wales are to be subject to an inspection programme, looking at how they are managing the risks of asbestos, starting in the new academic year.

The visits will be carried out by HSE inspectors. The regulator said its inspectors would contact the school beforehand to arrange a suitable date and time for the inspection.

The HSE mesothelioma statistics report acknowledged for the first time there is evidence of higher rates of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma in teachers, noting “proportional mortality ratios are somewhat higher for teachers and administrative occupations than those for nurses, sales occupations and process operatives, and this may suggest the potential for asbestos exposure during work time was somewhat higher in these jobs…”

Mesothelioma statistics for Great Britain, HSE, 6 July 2022. TES magazine.

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