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Local MP Martin Docherty-Hughes has vowed to fight for better safety in workplaces as West Dunbartonshire marks International Workers’ Memorial Day.

Speaking in parliament, SNP MP Martin challenged UK government Minister Penny Mordaunt over concerns about the number of deaths linked to asbestos exposure in the workplace.

According to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), the UK has the highest rates of workplace asbestos-related deaths per capita in the world. In West Dunbartonshire, the number of people dying from mesothelioma and asbestos-related cancers is amongst the highest in the country – linked to the area’s heavy industrial past.

During a Westminster debate on Asbestos in the Workplace, local MP Martin Docherty-Hughes also highlighted the work of Clydebank Asbestos Group in speaking up for families affected by asbestos.

A select committee of MPs has recommended a target be set to remove all asbestos from public and commercial buildings within a 40-year timeframe. However, the UK government rejected these recommendations, arguing asbestos is safe if it remains undisturbed.

Photo: SNP MPs wore purple ribbons in parliament this week to mark Workers’ Memorial Day (pictured Martin Docherty-Hughes MP – West Dunbartonshire).

A number of MPs and trade unions say that government inaction is putting lives at risk, citing the increasing number of deaths linked to asbestos exposure in schools and hospital buildings.

International Workers’ Memorial Day is an annual day of remembrance on 28th April for workers killed, disabled, injured or made unwell by their work.

Commenting, Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said:

“As we mark International Workers’ Memorial Day, I’m determined to continue pressing for greater protections and safety in the workplace.

“Across the UK, too many workers lose their lives to occupational illness or fatal injury. Asbestos alone kills 5,000 people every year – and is the biggest cause of work-related deaths in this country.

“There is a painful legacy of asbestos in West Dunbartonshire from our shipbuilding past. However, the British government is misguided to dismiss the risk posed by asbestos in present-day public buildings and workplaces.

“I’ll continue working with Clydebank Asbestos Group, trade unions, and others in parliament to defend the rights of workers and raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos.”

The Hansard transcript of Martin’s parliamentary question to Penny Mordaunt, Leader of the House of Commons, is available here.

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