Safe with every fiber – campaign
Asbestos is one of the carcinogens causing many deaths. The Dutch Demolition Association (VERAS), the Association for Removal of Toxic Construction materials (VVTB) and the foundation for Asbestos Regulation (Stichting Ascert) have started a campaign called ‘Veilig in elke Vezel’ (Safe with every fiber). The goal of the campaign is to increase the safety awareness at workplaces in the work field of asbestos removal. They aim to do this by increasing the attention for behavior and culture within organizations in the work environment of asbestos removal.
Setting and problem
It is estimated that annually 122.600 (with a range between 91.500 – 150.500) people are diagnosed with cancer because they have been exposed to carcinogens at work. One of those carcinogens is asbestos (RIVM Letter report 2016-0010: Work-related cancer in the European Union). In the Netherlands alone there is about 700 million kilograms of asbestos present in buildings, which is a hazard to public health. This means that the safe removal of asbestos is of big importance to society.
‘Veilig in elke vezel’ describes a number of risks and instructions for people working with asbestos and how to minimize these risks. A few risks pointed out:
- Risk awareness
The awareness of the severity of the consequences of inhaling asbestos fibers is often too low. For example with people removing asbestos, their management and their clients, who are familiar with the consequences but do underestimate the chance it will occur to them personally. A parallel with smoking habits is in place here.
- The regulatory burden
There are a few aspects of the regulations making it difficult to follow it through. This is partly because of the quantity of the rules, but also because not all rules translate well into practical situations, according to companies. This is also the reason that it’s not always clear how to act in a particular situation, according to the regulations.
- Unfair competition on the labor market
Because following the rules and regulations in order to create a safe and healthy work environment is expensive in time and money, some companies choose not to comply with. These companies are financially more attractive to clients.
More risks are described on the website.
Research in the campaign ‘Veilig in elke Vezel’ has shown that there are many risks involved in the removal of asbestos. With the creation of a website and online instructions, ‘Veilig in elke Vezel’ aims to increase awareness of the possible consequences for all companies and their employees working with asbestos. Knowing the risks and knowing how to handle asbestos, results in less exposure to asbestos fibers, and a safer work environment.