Asbestos was banned in all forms in the UK back in 1999. What this means, is that any building or structure that was constructed prior to that date is likely to have asbestos-containing materials somewhere within it. Asbestos is often found in older properties in the form of insulation, lagging on pipes and around boilers, ceiling tiles and many other items. With this in mind, if you are the person responsible for the management of a building that was constructed before 1999 in the UK, it is your duty and legal responsibility to investigate should there be concern about asbestos-containing materials being present. This is where a licensed asbestos survey company is the only option. It only takes one breath of asbestos fibres to develop an illness.
What is happening to those patients who are suffering with asbestos-related illnesses during this time of lockdown?
There has been a worry in some quarters that due to the wide-spread fear of coronavirus that some people who are suffering with symptoms of other illnesses, are staying away from doctors and hospitals when they would normally go and seek medical advice. This has caused anxiety of its own, and when you combine that with the drastic changes to usually treatments and surgeries, there has been an impact on cancer patients and the treatment that they receive on a regular basis.
It is difficult of course, and when dealing with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses specifically, you are talking about conditions that do not necessarily present symptoms for many years or even decades after the initial contact with asbestos fibres. With social distancing and the lockdown causing changes to treatment procedures and patterns, it might make a big difference to the short-term health of those suffering, as they are more likely to contract Covid-19 than a completely healthy person.
One way around this over the last few months has been to implement video and phone consultations with doctors and specialists, as an alternative to physical face-to-face meetings in a surgery or hospital. Although not ideal, this has helped patients to feel like they are still connected to their doctors and treatment plan. This and a careful and sensitive approach to social distancing within medical establishments should maintain a proper connection between patients and their treatment.
As we have all seen in recent months, the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, has changed the way the entire country (the world in fact) works on a daily basis. We have all been confined to our homes, seen a big change in the way we work and had to perform under stress and with the constraints and delays to projects in a wide array of industries and sectors. When it comes to the safety of everyone, there is a need to continue dialogue with asbestos management companies to determine a plan of action to survey and remove asbestos when it is safe and proper to do so in each instance. This, and the continued treatment of patients suffering with asbestos-related illnesses, is a crucial step to continuing to make the world safe from asbestos over the coming years.