Radical Asbestos Regulations Planned
As members of The Institution of Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH), our Health and Safety Professionals have recently been asked to comment on the proposals by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health for the eradication of asbestos. Further details, as well as our view, are provided below.
The Asbestos Crisis – Why Britain Needs an Eradication Law
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health believes that the time has come to put in place regulations requiring the safe, phased and planned removal of all the asbestos that still remains in place across Britain. Only that way can we ensure that future generations will not have to experience the same deadly epidemic from asbestos-related diseases that we suffer today.
This year, in Britain, official figures estimate that 5,000 people are likely to die prematurely as a result of asbestos exposure. This is around three times the number of road accident deaths.
Almost all of the people who are dying now were exposed to asbestos decades ago and asbestos is now often wrongly seen as being a problem of the past as its importation and use has been banned since 1999.
Before the death rate declines, around a quarter of a million people in Britain will have died as a result of asbestos exposure. Unfortunately the estimates of a decline after 2020 depend on presumptions of exposure which, the HSE admits, “are particularly dependent on assumptions about certain model parameters for which there is no strong empirical basis ”“ and in particular, the extent of population asbestos exposure after 1980.”
If we are to protect future generations from the risk of exposure to this deadly fibre, the All-Party Parliamentary Group believes that we need a new law on asbestos with a clear timetable for the eradication of asbestos in every single workplace in Britain.
It should include provisions to ensure that:
All commercial, public, and rented domestic premises have to conduct, and register with the HSE, a survey done by a registered consultant which indicates whether asbestos containing material is present.
Where asbestos is identified in any premises, all refurbishment, repair or remedial work done in the vicinity of the asbestos containing material should include the removal of the asbestos.
The HSE, local authorities and other enforcing agencies must develop a programme of workplace inspections to verify that all asbestos containing material identified is properly marked and managed, and that asbestos eradication plans are in place and include, as part of the plan, an acceptable timeframe for the eradication.
Before any house sale is completed, a survey should be done which includes a survey of the presence of asbestos.
At Keelagher Okey Klein we feel that this is a worthy sentiment but would be virtually impossible to implement. Even if this were to gain Parliamentary approval it would not help those already exposed and potentially facing the unavoidable onset of an Asbestos-related disease.
We believe the current CAW forms a reasonably practicable legal framework for control and future avoidance of exposure to harmful fibres whilst maintaining a balance of priority with other equally hazardous substances/conditions.
Our team of Health and Safety Professionals are highly experienced in working on asbestos removal projects and are well-equipped to provide timely, proactive advice and assistance on any asbestos related matters. For further information, please contact John Okey on 01925 654158.