Campaigners say Hidden Killer adverts did not exaggerate exposure risk to workers

Anti-asbestos campaigners have hit back at a ruling banning an HSE advert for ‘exaggerating’ the risks of exposure to the substance.

The Advertising Standards Authority banned the HSE’s Hidden Killer adverts because it said quoted figures of 4,000 fatalities each year between 2004 and 2006 were overestimated.

It said it upheld a complaint because the deaths could have been the result of exposure to asbestos many years ago.

The TUC said it was surprised by the judgement and said it thought deaths caused by asbestos were higher than the HSE figures.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “The HSE fatalities figures have always been regarded as overly cautious and if all premature deaths caused by asbestos are included the figure would almost certainly be much higher.”

The International Ban Asbestos Secretariat said it was “appalled” by the ruling.

Laurie Kazan-Allen, coordinator at IBAS, said: “The decision will be used by global asbestos producers as proof that warnings issued by the International Labor Organization, the World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer over the use of asbestos have been exaggerated.”

The ASA said the adverting campaign “could mislead by presenting as definitive figures those that were, in part, based on estimates”.