The HSE (Health Safety Executive) recently released its report on statistics related to occupational lung diseases, and the numbers are concerning. According to the agency, every year about 12,000 people die due to exposure, in their work environments, to harmful substances. Many of these deaths could be avoided by using dust and smoke extractors.

Learn more about the “Occupational Lung Disease Statistics in Great Britain, 2023” results.


The Enduring Legacy of Asbestos in the UK: A Persistent Health Crisis

One of the most concerning pieces of data revealed by the study relates to the prevalence of asbestos-related diseases in the UK, even 25 years after its use was banned. According to the HSE, in 2021, more than 2,000 people died from mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer that affects the mesothelium. This tissue lines several internal cavities of the body, including the pleura (lining of the lungs), the peritoneum (lining of the abdomen), and the pericardium (lining around the heart).

Asbestos fibres can damage the cells of the mesothelium, leading to inflammation and genetic mutations that result in the development of mesothelioma.

In addition to mesothelioma cases, another 2,000 people died from lung cancer, also caused by asbestos exposure. The mineral fibre, when inhaled, can penetrate lung tissues. The presence of the fibres provokes an inflammatory response from the body, which tries to remove this foreign substance unsuccessfully. The resulting chronic inflammation can lead to tissue lesions, fibrosis, and cancer.


The Critical State of Workplace Air Quality in the UK: A Call for Action

Air circulation and contaminant removal are neglected at alarming rates in the UK. The HSE estimates that, in the three years preceding the study, about 150,000 individuals acquired lung diseases or experienced worsening conditions due to their work. In addition to diseases caused by asbestos, other common problems caused by the lack of Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEVs) include:

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a condition that kills about 4,000 people per year.
  • Occupational asthma.
  • Silicosis, asbestosis, and other forms of pneumoconiosis (300 deaths per year).
  • Occupational asthma, diffuse pleural thickening and pleural plaques, allergic alveolitis and byssinosis.

As frightening as these statistics are, it’s important to remember that the actual numbers may be even worse. Workers with cancer or other lung diseases may not report the condition to the relevant authorities because they do not understand the connection between their jobs and their illnesses.


Trend For The Coming Years

The HSE study offers encouraging news: since 2001/02, the annual prevalence rates of self-reported work-related breathing or lung problems among workers in the past 12 months have nearly halved, dropping from 200 per 100,000 workers in the early 2000s to an average of 130 per 100,000 in the last three years. Similarly, for individuals with any work history, these rates have decreased from 390 to 310 cases per 100,000 workers from the early 2000s.


Causes of The Main Occupational Respiratory Diseases

The ‘Occupational Lung Disease Statistics in Great Britain, 2023’ report reveals the causes of these diseases. Approximately 20% of workers were affected by dust from stone, cement, brick, or concrete at their workplaces. Another 13% were impacted by airborne materials from spray painting or foam product manufacturing.

Additionally, 10% of workers reported exposure to airborne materials during welding, soldering, or metal cutting/grinding activities, and 7% were exposed to dust from flour, grain, cereal, animal feed, or straw. About 20% of workers experienced illness or worsened symptoms due to environmental conditions such as heat, cold, humidity, or dry air.


Get in Touch With Auto Extract Systems Today

The information contained in the study confirms that LEVs are essential for maintaining workers’ health. Many of the deaths accounted for by the competent bodies could have been avoided with the correct use of protective equipment and the implementation of appropriate ventilation and exhaust systems.

This underlines the importance of Auto Extract Systems as the UK’s leading Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) company. For over two decades, we have assisted countless companies in achieving a workplace free from dust and fumes. Our team is fully prepared and well-equipped with the latest technology and industry knowledge to ensure that your company meets and exceeds the highest standards of operational excellence and regulatory compliance.

With a comprehensive approach covering everything from initial assessments to implementing custom solutions, we will enhance the safety and efficiency of your workplace. Get in touch today to ensure the health of your staff.

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