Asbestos victim bids to prevent deaths with work safety drive

A terminally-ill woman who contracted lung cancer from the asbestos dust on her husband’s clothes will address a Scottish conference looking at health and safety practice in the workplace.

Picture: Ian Hodgkinson / Picture It: Launch of the Faculty of Asbestos Assessment and Management (FAAM) held at the Conrad Hotel in Londo
Picture: Ian Hodgkinson / Picture It: Launch of the Faculty of Asbestos Assessment and Management (FAAM) held at the Conrad Hotel in Londo

Mavis Nye’s husband Ray came into contact with asbestos in the 1950s while working as an apprentice at a Royal Navy Dockyard in Chatham, Kent, and would meet Mrs Nye on her lunch break.

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In 2009 the devastating consequences of this became apparent, when she was diagnosed with a form of asbestos-related terminal lung cancer called mesothelioma.

Mrs Nye and Ray later established the Mavis Nye Foundation, to “inspire victims of mesothelioma” and raise awareness of the dangers of exposure to asbestos.

She will address the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) 2019 Scotland Conference, taking place at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Edinburgh City Centre next Wednesday.

Mrs Nye said: “Despite being banned from UK buildings two decades ago, asbestos is killing 5,000 people a year in the UK. My hope is, by sharing my story, I will be able to help drive home why it is vital that companies and employees take health and safety seriously and in doing so prevent heartache and loss of life. I am very grateful to RoSPA for ­giving me an opportunity to do this.”

The RoSPA Scotland Conference is the annual event for the health and safety community in Scotland and is an opportunity to discuss key issues facing professionals, through a range of updates, case studies and interactive sessions. This year’s conference focuses on improving health and safety practice in the workplace, and how to avoid accidents while working at height and driving professionally.

Speakers include Barry Baker, head of operations for the Health and Safety Executive in Scotland, Shirley Windsor, organisational lead for public mental health at NHS Health Scotland, and Errol Taylor, chief executive of RoSPA.

Dr Karen McDonnell, head of RoSPA Scotland, said: “Tragically, one person dies every hour as a result of past exposure to harmful working conditions in the UK. The devastating impact of poor occupational health and safety practice is clearly and poignantly demonstrated in the case of Mavis and Ray Nye.

“RoSPA is calling on employers in Scotland and the wider world to consider the ‘ripple effect’ of life-altering accidents, injuries and ill-health on families, communities and society as a whole.”