Here are the latest statistics published by the Health and Safety Executive in 2019. It’s important that we monitor figures closely to know how the asbestos industry is improving in the UK but also still highlight the vital need to asbestos testing.
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that takes many years to develop following the inhalation of asbestos fibres but is usually rapidly fatal following symptom onset. Annual deaths in Britain increased steeply over the last 50 years, a consequence of mainly occupational asbestos exposures that occurred because of the widespread industrial use of asbestos during 1950-1980. This is expected to decline however due to improved asbestos testing in more recent years.
The latest information shows:
There were 2,526 mesothelioma deaths in Great Britain in 2017, a broadly similar number to the previous five years.
The latest projections suggest that there will continue to be around 2,500 deaths per year for the rest of this current decade before annual numbers begin to decline.
More than half of annual deaths now occur in those aged over 75 years. Annual deaths in this age group continue to increase while deaths below age 70 are now decreasing.
There were 2,087 male deaths in 2017, a slight reduction compared with recent years, and 439 female deaths, a slight increase.
There were 2,230 new cases of mesothelioma assessed for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) in 2018 of which 245 were female. This compares with 2,025 new cases in 2017, of which 235 were female.
Men who worked in the building industry when asbestos was used extensively are now among those most at risk of mesothelioma.