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A report published by the All-Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health is calling for an asbestos eradication law to ensure the removal of all asbestos from buildings by 2035.
Asbestos containing materials can be found in around half a million non-domestic properties and a million domestic ones. Over five thousand people die prematurely each year as a result of asbestos exposure.
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 asbestos that still remains in place.
It is the view of the Parliamentary Group that retaining a policy of managing asbestos in place is no longer appropriate and needs to be changed. Managing in place has been the generally accepted practice in the past but was always seen as a temporary measure. Despite regulations calling for all premises to be surveyed and asbestos-containing materials to be regularly inspected and labelled, the report states this is not happening.
Main recommendations are:
- All commercial, public and rented domestic premises have to conduct, and register with the HSE a survey done by a registered asbestos consultant that indicates whether asbestos-containing material is present, and if so, where it is and in what condition. This should be done by 2022.
- Where asbestos is identified any premises, all refurbishment, repair or remedial work done in the vicinity of the asbestos-containing material should include the removal of the asbestos. Where no such work takes place, or is planned within the foreseeable future, the duty holder must develop and implement a plan for the removal of all asbestos which ensures that removal is completed as soon as is reasonably practical, but certainly no later than 2035. In the case of public buildings and educational establishments, such as schools, this must be done by 2028.
- 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. Resources should be made available to the enforcing agencies to ensure that they can ensure that all workplaces and public places are complying with the regulation relating to management and removal, and that disposal is being done responsibly and safely.
- Before any house sale is completed, a survey should be done which includes a survey for the presence of asbestos. Any asbestos-containing material should be labelled. Information on the presence of asbestos should be given to any contractor working on the house.
Ian Lavery, chair of the all-party group said:
“There is far too much complacency about the asbestos which we can still find in hundreds of thousands of workplaces as well as a majority of schools where children face exposure to this killer dust. We believe that the Government needs to start now on developing a programme to ensure that asbestos is safely removed from every workplace and public place so that we can end, once and for all this dreadful legacy which has killed so many people, and will continue to kill until asbestos is eradicated.”