C027:00 14 June 2000
HSC TO ACT TO REDUCE RISKS FROM ASBESTOS IN WORKPLACE BUILDINGS
The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) is proposing to tighten up the law to reduce the risks from the asbestos which remains in workplace buildings throughout Britain in both the public and private sectors. A new duty to manage asbestos will be placed on those responsible for such buildings.
Bill Callaghan, HSC Chair, said:
"There are 3,000 deaths a year from asbestos-related diseases, all of which could have been prevented. This is an intolerable toll of human suffering and misery. It is a grim reminder of the cost of health and safety failure, and of the benefits if we manage this problem successfully."
Many people now dying were unaware that they had encountered asbestos, but it was installed as thermal insulation and for fireproofing in numerous buildings in the middle decades of the 20th century. It is estimated that there could still be 1.5 million workplace properties with asbestos in them.
Asbestos-containing materials pose no risk if they are in good condition and are left undisturbed. The problems arise if they are not properly managed. The HSC proposals address this situation and will protect, in particular, those in building-related occupations such as electricians, gas installers, plumbers, carpenters, as well as others who visit workplace premises, including the general public.
Those responsible for workplace premises will be required to:
A new Approved Code of Practice is also proposed which would provide interpretation on complying with the regulations.
At the same time, the Health and Safety Executive has published a new video, 'How Are You Today?', in two parts. The first is aimed at workers in building-related occupations; the second at employers who will have the new duty to manage asbestos. A technical guide - 'Asbestos Essentials' - is also being prepared for building workers undertaking minor - but potentially dangerous - work with asbestos.
Comments on the consultative document should be sent to Ian Gooday, Health and Safety Executive, HDC, Rose Court 6SW, 2 Southwark Bridge, London SE1 9HS to reach him by 20 October 2000.
Copies of the consultative document, 'Proposals for amendments to The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 1987; a new Approved Code of Practice; and a minor amendment to the Health and Safety (Enforcing Authority) Regulations 1998', ref. CD159, and of a summary of it, 'A summary of Proposals for the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations', ref. MISC 226, are available free.
They can be ordered online at http://www.hsebooks.co.uk or are available from HSE Books, PO Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk, CO10 2WA, tel 01787 881165, fax 01787313995. Alternatively the consultative document can be downloaded from HSE's website http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/misc226.pdf HSE priced publications are also available from all good bookshops.
The video, 'How Are You Today?', can be ordered from HSE Videos, PO Box 35, Wetherby, West Yorkshire LS23 7EX, tel 01937 541010 or fax 01937 541083, at an initial price of £49.50.
Notes to Editors
1. These proposals will provide a major contribution to HSC's strategy to revitalise health and safety by ensuring information is available to workers to help them properly to assess the risks from asbestos.
2. HSC also proposes changes to the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations to implement the European Union's Chemical Agents Directive, and also clarifies the enforcement arrangements between local authorities and the HSE for asbestos work.
3. The new technical guidance for workers in building-related occupations, 'Asbestos Essentials', is expected to be published later in the summer.
PUBLIC ENQUIRIES: Call HSE's InfoLine, tel: 08701 545500, or write to:
HSE Information Centre, Broad Lane, Sheffield, S3 7HQ.