Twenty years ago, when I started working for THSP, it was predicted that the number of asbestos deaths per year would be on the decline by 2012.
Last week however HSE released their latest statistics for 2016. The number of mesothelioma deaths had risen to 2,595 with a similar number of lung cancer deaths and the number of asbestosis deaths had risen to 500.
In combination there were over 5000 asbestos related deaths in 2016.
Whilst these deaths are a result of previous exposures to asbestos containing materials and current working practices are much improved, we cannot become complacent.
There are still hundreds of buildings around the UK where asbestos containing materials are still present and those construction and maintenance workers repairing, refurbishing or demolishing them need to know the dangers to their health and the steps to take to eliminate that those risks.
All workers likely to encounter asbestos in the workplace must therefore receive suitable training and regular updates to ensure they remain vigilant.
Building managers also have duties to locate, identify, assess and put in place a management plan for any asbestos containing materials on their premises.
Hopefully the number of deaths will soon start to fall, but how long it takes until we achieve a zero rate is wholly dependant upon what we do today.