Register launched after PPE made from Asbestos
BECTU, the UK union for broadcasting, film, theatre, entertainment, leisure, interactive media and allied sectors, has established a register for all its members who fear they may have been exposed to asbestos.
Once regarded as a "miracle material" for its fire retardant properties, it is only relatively recently that the health implications of exposure to asbestos have come to light.
People working in building trades are considered to be most at risk from asbestos poisoning, where carpenters, fitters and demolition workers were exposed during the course of their day-to-day work with asbestos material.
By contrast the entertainment industry is not commonly associated with asbestos poisoning, but it was commonly used in TV sets and to lag pipes, which may have left many union members exposed.
Furthermore, personal protection equipment (PPE), such as fire-proof gloves and suits, used frequently by stunt worker were manufactured from asbestos.
Indeed the nature of the job means that many stunt performers spent extended periods of time wearing PPE, raising fears that many BECTU members may have been poisoned.
BECTU said that the register will be invaluable in speeding up the process of compensation for members who have subsequently become ill, recording their names, employers, the location of their suspected exposure and the date they believe this took place.
Some 3,500 people in the UK will die this year from asbestos-related illnesses, although this figure is expected to rise to 10,000 people a year by 2020.
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