A new Bill has been proposed that could see the formalised, planned removal of asbestos from all public buildings in the UK. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health is calling for an eradication law that would address the ongoing issue of asbestos exposure, and protect the health of future generations.
It has been estimated that asbestos is present in about half a million public and commercial buildings around the UK, in addition to approximately one million residential households. Tradespeople and maintenance staff are most at risk, however, as they are highly likely to come into contact with the substance in their normal line of work.
Asbestos contamination in the ground
The report, ‘The asbestos crisis – Why Britain needs an eradication law’ has been welcomed by asbestos campaign groups including Save Spodden Valley, which was the site of the world’s largest asbestos factory.
Campaign spokesperson, Jason Addy, highlighted the vast numbers of public buildings still containing asbestos, and also raised concerns about the dangers of asbestos in the ground:
“Add to this the complex risks associated with asbestos contamination in soil and we have the ingredients for an environmental hazard that could be underestimated by policy makers or avoided by property speculators.”
So what measures have been proposed to eradicate asbestos?
A range of proposals have been made as part of the eradication bill, including:
- A survey to be carried out before 2022 on all public, commercial, and rented domestic properties by a qualified consultant, to establish whether or not asbestos is present, and if so, its whereabouts within the building – each survey to be registered with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
- Planned removal/remediation measures to take place as soon as possible, but prior to 2035 (or 2028 in the case of schools and other educational buildings).
- Agencies including HSE, and local authorities to have the power to enforce the removal of asbestos from these buildings, and oversee all operations via regular checks and monitoring of safety procedures.
- An asbestos survey to be carried out on residential properties prior to sale. Also, contractors to be provided with information about the presence of asbestos before embarking on any work in a residential property.
Chairperson of the All-Party group, Ian Lavery, talked about the complacency the government appears to be displaying with regard to the dangers of asbestos. They are asking the government to take immediate action:
“… 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.”
Asbestos training courses to safeguard health
Asbestos awareness online training helps tradespeople and other workers to identify asbestos within a building. UKATA online training courses are flexible and can be taken at home or in the workplace. It is compulsory for employers in the UK to provide this type of training to any worker likely to encounter asbestos during their normal working day, and an HSE asbestos certificate demonstrates successful completion of the course.