HC Deb 23 March 1976 vol 908 cc141-2W
Mr. Greville Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Emploment how many deaths he estimates are caused to workers and to other persons, respectively, by the inhalation of asbestos fibres during the course of a year.

Mr. Harold Walker

For 1974 the Registrar-General for England and Wales and Scotland had a total of 25 deaths certified with asbestosis as the underlying cause; these people will have had an occupational exposure to asbestos.

For the same year the Registrar-General for England and Wales had a total of 69 deaths certified showing mesothelioma as the underlying cause with a mention of an association with asbestos;

Fatal Accidents Accidents resulting in absence of three or more days
Year ended March South Wales Rest of Great Britain South Wales Rest of Great Britain
1966–67 31 114 34,816 144,440
1967–68 16 117 29,411 134,219
1968–69 19 96 23,937 108,406
1969–70 15 67 20,247 91,879
1970–71 17 75 12,963 69,342
1971–72 17 41 10,691 54,486
1972–73 16 64 10,738 59,254
1973–74 6 54 8,506 47,867
1974–75 8 48 7,984 46,349
1975–76 (47 weeks only) 9 44 7,067 40,245

The figures are for 52 or 53 week periods ended in March, except for 1975–76 for which there are provisional figures for 47 weeks only, ended on 21st February 1976.

The figures are for NCB coal mines in Great Britain; those for South Wales include also Somerset for the periods 1966–67 to 1973–74; those for the rest of Great Britain include North Wales throughout. Corresponding figures are not available for other mines.

For some of the years, the figures are not strictly comparable because of the incidence of industrial disputes.

Despite a recent increase in fatalities in South Wales, the above figures indicate an overall downward trend in accidents generally, both in South Wales and elsewhere. There is an immediate and thorough investigation of all fatal and serious accidents in mines and quarries by Her Majesty's Inspectors of Mines and Quarries. Improved safety measures

these people will predominantly have had an occupational exposure.

The inhalation of asbestos fibres is a contributing cause in some cases of lung cancer but figures are not available.