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Hundreds of union reps will inspect workplace buildings for safety this week

HUNDREDS of trade union health and safety reps are taking part in TUC-organised action to inspect their workplace buildings this week in the run-up to Workers’ Memorial Day.

More than 600 reps are checking for life-threatening problems like Reinforced Autoclave Aerated Concrete (Raac), asbestos and fire hazards ahead of Sunday April 28, when unions will remember those who have lost their lives due to work-related illness or injury.

More than 100 schools in England were shut down last year after the discovery of Raac, a material used mainly in public buildings between the 1950s and ’90s, which has a lifespan of just 30 years.

Many buildings that contain Raac, including lots of schools and hospitals, are now at risk of collapse.

Asbestos was also widely used in buildings until 2000 and more than 5,000 people die in Britain each year from diseases linked to the material.

And the cladding associated with the Grenfell Tower fire is still present in some office blocks, schools and hospitals.

TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “Everyone should be safe at work. But when some people step through the door of their workplace, they step into danger. 

“We are calling on government ministers to speed up the removal of Raac and asbestos from schools, hospitals and other public buildings.

“If you’re worried about safety at work, get together with colleagues to join a union.

“Unions give workers the power to protect themselves. And the health and safety reps that we train can be life-savers.”

The union body is also calling for the publication of a national risk register, with public transparency about where hazardous building materials are located.

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