Safety authorities are launching a radio campaign to warn about the dangers of asbestos.

WorkSafe Victoria says its new campaign is aimed at warning tradies to check for asbestos before starting any job.

Inhaling asbestos can cause mesothelioma - a cancer of the lining around the lungs.

The latest statistics from the Australian Mesothelioma Register reveal that an estimated 60 per cent of mesothelioma cases are due to asbestos exposure in the workplace.

There were at least 95 mesothelioma deaths in Victoria in 2016 and 145 new cases of the disease.

WorkSafe Acting Director of Health and Safety, Paul Fowler, says although many tradies know asbestos posed a significant health risk, many do not know how to identify it.

“Workers have to know what they should be looking out for before they start work,” he said.

“Asbestos materials were commonly used in buildings before 1990 and are still contained in many structures today.

“Learning more about asbestos and how to identify it could be the difference between developing a severe illness or staying healthy.”

In addition to mesothelioma, asbestos has also been linked to lung cancer and asbestosis, which causes scarring of lungs, shortness of breath and coughing.

Tradies involved in the building and construction industry are most at risk, particularly those involved in home renovations, maintenance, refurbishment or demolition of buildings built before 1990.

Asbestos fibres can be released into the air when drilling, sawing, sanding or when demolition work breaks asbestos materials in walls and floors.

The campaign, which includes advertisements on radio, online and in trade publications, encourages tradies to make sure they can confidently identify the material.

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