Global Asbestos Awareness Week reaches thousands on social media

Thousands of people have been made aware of asbestos, the most significant cause of work-related cancer, on social media during Global Asbestos Awareness Week (GAAW) from 1-7 April 2020.

The week aimed to raise awareness of the prevention of exposure to asbestos and was organised by US nonprofit the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) in partnership with IOSH.

As IOSH continues to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak, it believed it was important to raise awareness of asbestos, another invisible killer, and back ADAO during GAAW.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen and there is no safe level of exposure. Since the 19th century, asbestos was widely used in construction, shipbuilding, and the automotive industry. It is the biggest cause of workplace cancer claiming at least 107,000 lives every year worldwide.

IOSH supported GAAW to raise awareness of asbestos at work and to promote the range of resources it has produced through its award-winning No Time to Lose (NTTL) campaign to help businesses manage the risks.

The week kicked-off with ADAO co-founder Linda Reinstein and IOSH President Dr Andrew Sharman sharing a video message on social media urging everyone to get involved using the hashtag #2020GAAW.

Each day of GAAW featured educational resources from NTTL, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other leading bodies. As well as guest blogs, videos, and asbestos victims’ stories. The week culminated on 7th April with an online, worldwide candlelight vigil.

ADAO’s daily blogs included a number of NTTL resources including its eight steps to managing asbestos; its 2019 GAAW webinar on ‘Preventing asbestos exposure risks’ in partnership with ADAO and the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS); and NTTL and ADAO co-branded resources. Businesses were also encouraged to sign-up to the NTTL pledge to manage carcinogens in the workplace.

In addition, GAAW shared important advice from WHO and IOSH to stop the spread of Covid-19 and provided information and advice for mesothelioma patients during the coronavirus pandemic from NTTL supporter Mesothelioma UK.

Despite these challenging times, the week was incredibly successful and reached an audience of 683,000 on social media. Our posts were shared around 200 times. The No Time to Lose website had around 1,000 page-views and more than 230 asbestos resources were downloaded.

ADAO co-founder Linda Reinstein, said:

“We are delighted to reach a global community and engage in great conversations on social media.

“As I reflect on the success of Global Asbestos Awareness Week, I am both amazed and encouraged. I am amazed by how far the core messages of the week travelled, and I was encouraged to see tangible results from our combined efforts, highlighting that what we are doing is meaningful.

More people than ever have truly heard what we have to say and, more importantly, have recognized the importance of sharing it with others.

“Looking ahead, the global reaction to the week has been truly remarkable, and we have created worldwide conversations on asbestos dangers.

“If we continue to take action together, we will achieve our goals. To each of you who shared our educational resources, your own personal story, or the stories of other Warriors— you made this happen and are the biggest part of the solution! 

“We look forward to continuing the Global Asbestos Awareness Week conversation in 2021. Until then, remember: HEAR ASBESTOS. THINK PREVENTION.”

IOSH Chief Executive Bev Messinger, said:

“I’d like to thank all our members, our No Time to Lose campaign supporter organisations, and all the individuals who participated in Global Asbestos Awareness Week. It is only by working together we have achieved these great results.

“During these challenging times, we mustn’t forget invisible killers like asbestos that have been around for many years. It’s estimated that around 125 million people around the world are still exposed to it, therefore we need to continue to raise awareness.  

“I urge businesses to sign-up to our No Time to Lose campaign pledge to help prevent exposure to asbestos in our workplaces. If we all do our bit, we can beat deadly diseases, including occupational cancer. 

Pictured below are a selection of posts by organisations and individuals who helped raise awareness on Global Asbestos Awareness Week.