A follow-up card for workers exposed to asbestos
Helsinki (17.05.2011 - Juhani Artto) Experts estimate that about 200,000
Finns have been exposed to asbestos. At least 10,000 of them have succumbed
asbestos-caused illnesses, and in recent years around one hundred
have died annually as victims of asbestos exposure during their working
lives. At this point in time the number of serious illnesses related to
asbestos is approaching the top-most level.
Most exposures took place in the 1960s and 1970s at construction sites,
shipyards and power plants and in vehicle installation, repair and service
jobs. At that time there was also an asbestos industry in Finland, with
health risks. The use, import and trade of asbestos has been prohibited in
Finland since 1994. Asbestos use had almost completely come to an end by
1988 because from that time one
had to receive special permission from the authorities to use it.
As the delay between asbestos exposure and the outbreak or development of
illnesses is long – anything from 10 to 40 years - it is often difficult to
an illness as being directly caused by exposure. Now a new tool has been
introduced to make it easier to find out the true cause of an
This tool is a follow-up card. It is filled with data on exposure and on
possible occupational disease. All follow-up health checks and their results
and plans for the future treatment are written on the card. Experts expect
these cards to be especially helpful for follow-up checks on workers after
have retired. The card is beneficial for both the patients and the Finnish
health care organization.
The card was announced in April in Oulu at an event, organized by the
Breathing Association, the union confederations SAK and STTK, and the trade
unions representing metal, electrical, paper and construction workers.