The advice continues to be that identified asbestos, in good condition (not disturbed or damaged) and regularly reviewed is a negligible risk. It is historic exposure to asbestos, prior to the voluntary and legal bans on its usage, that account for many of the above deaths. However, adding to these figures are now people in construction and other building-related trades (plumbing, electrical, cabling, engineers) disturbing and inhaling asbestos fibres released as part of their (or others) work.
Despite the introduction of Regulation 4 (duty to manage in non-domestic premises) of the now Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 nearly 20 years ago, while good, proactive, management exists for many organisations, it seemingly doesn’t for all judging by the number of investigations and prosecutions occurring in the UK.
The responsibility to identify, register and manage asbestos of course lies with the duty holder and should also form part of any thinking/decision-making when dealing with the premises. Those contracted, or otherwise, to deliver such works should equally recognise the possible risks and be asking for the relevant information if it is not provided.
The HSE regularly highlights the risks of asbestos and has comprehensive information on the subject available on their website (Asbestos - HSE). This was further bolstered last month with the launch of the “Asbestos and You” campaign. Targeting all tradespeople but with a focus on younger workers in trades such as plastering and joinery, the focus is to reach construction workers who started their careers after the use of asbestos was banned in 1999.
Acting Head of HSE’s Construction policy sector, Tim Beaumont, commenting on the launch, said,
“All tradespeople should make sure they know the basics about identifying asbestos. Before carrying out any construction work, there’s a legal requirement to identify whether asbestos is present and could be disturbed. Younger tradespeople need to know the dangers behind asbestos as it could affect them in later life like it is affecting older tradespeople now.”
More information on the campaign can be found at - Asbestos & You - Work Right to keep Britain safe