MPs Propose New Asbestos Management Approach

Asbestos Management
LLB (Hons) Nimish Patel
Written by: Jessica Lee Legally reviewed by: LLB (Hons) Nimish Patel Updated: In: Industrial Disease

The UK’s Work and Pension Committee has proposed a 40-year time scale for the government to remove all long-standing legacy asbestos from both public and commercial buildings. The proposal was recently put forward to the House of Commons. It recommended that the government and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) put the findings in the proposal towards their approach to asbestos management.

The UK is one of 60 nations that have banned asbestos. However, none of these countries has passed this type of regulation for asbestos. The proposal would put the UK at the forefront of asbestos management, setting a new standard for other nations to follow.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral previously used in many industries for its ability to resist heat and strengthen most anything with which it was mixed. The use of asbestos was common in industries such as construction, shipbuilding, and mining. Unfortunately, asbestos is also highly toxic. Ingesting or inhaling the microscopic fibers can cause serious health issues such as lung cancer, malignant mesothelioma, and asbestosis.

Our asbestos claims solicitors are here to help you make a claim if you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, or another disease caused by exposure to asbestos.

Find out if you’re eligible to make an asbestos claim here.

The UK Goal for Net Zero Asbestos Levels

According to the recent report, there are an estimated 300,000 non-domestic buildings in the UK that contain asbestos. Despite the ban on asbestos use in the UK in 1999, the levels of nonoccupational asbestos exposure have risen. In 2019 alone 5,000 people died in Britain from asbestos exposure. As a result, the proposal aims for Britain to reach ‘net-zero ‘asbestos levels by the next 40 years. The committee proposes the removal of asbestos in a safer, and strictly regulated manageable process.

An increase in retrofitting in response to net-zero ambitions will disturb more asbestos-containing materials in the coming decades. Therefore, the committee proposes a fully realised approach to tackle rising asbestos levels.

Recent Proposals Regarding the Approach to Asbestos Management

The recent report calls for the government and the HSE to back up their goal of removing all asbestos by committing to a 40-year time frame and strategy. The plan focuses on gaining more evidence regarding the safe and effective removal of asbestos. The focus should come before initiating removals from high-risk settings like schools. The Work and Pension Committee has called for stricter enforcement of current asbestos removal procedures. Usually, individual businesses carry out these procedures during which they do not adhere to the standards.

In addition to the stricter enforcements and 40-year deadline, the recent proposals are:

  • For the government to provide adequate funding to HSE’s inspections and enforcement regulations.
  • To sponsor and provide funding for research regarding how HSE uses and communicates information on asbestos in buildings.
  • Develop a framework for the measurement of current asbestos exposure in non-domestic buildings.
  • Work with local government agencies to review and share evidence related to routine environment air monitoring of asbestos.
  • Improve inspection and enforcement activity targeting compliance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations government agency.
  • To require accredited and licenced asbestos removal contractors, adhering to strict protocol, for all projects.

Read more about the proposals.

The report highlights how HSE’s inspection and enforcement of the current asbestos regulations have declined in recent years. The committee believes that HSE has been slow to invest in research into the costs and benefits of safely removing asbestos. However the commitee hopes that the newly proposed 40-year deadline will help to focus the government’s attention on increasing funding for asbestos removal.

AWH’s Industrial Disease Solicitor, Nimish Patel comments:

“Whilst the general population are now fully aware of the dangers of asbestos and the number of deaths arising from historic exposure continue to rise, it is disappointing to hear that there has been a decline in standards over the past 7 years from companies seeking to save on expense.”

“It must be important for us to learn from the mistakes in the past to avoid the same issues being part of our future.”

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