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MPs set out asbestos removal deadline

October 16 2015

The all-party parliamentary group on occupational safety and health has today, Friday 16 October, published a report calling for the removal of all asbestos in Britain.

The Construction Index website reported that there are thought to be approximately half a million non-domestic buildings and a million domestic buildings that have asbestos containing materials. The all-party group has today put forward recommendations to have this asbestos removed by 2035.

The report recommends that all commercial, public, and rented domestic premises register surveys with the Health and Safety Executive by 2022, stating whether asbestos is present. It also calls for asbestos removal to be included in any refurbishment, repair or remedial work planned for the area containing asbestos.

If no such work is planned, all asbestos should be removed as soon as possible – no later than 2035, and by 2028 in the case of public buildings and educational establishments.

Other recommendations in the report include calling on the Health and Safety Executive, local authorities and enforcing agencies to develop a programme of inspections to ensure asbestos containing material is properly handled and marked, and introducing a survey on the presence of asbestos before any house sale is completed.

Ian Lavery MP, 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.”

Dan Shears, GMB National Health and Safety Director, said: “GMB agrees with the All-Party Parliamentary Group that removal is the only way can we ensure that future generations will not have to experience the same deadly epidemic from asbestos-related diseases that we suffer today.

“We know only too well that workers have died from mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos at work, particularly in non-industrial workplaces. Hundreds of teachers, lectures and teaching assistants, cooks, caretakers and cleaners have died from mesothelioma since 1980, and the number of deaths in the public sector and NHS are not known.

“We do know that public buildings such as schools, hospitals and offices contain high levels of asbestos, and it is right that this should be assessed and prioritised for phased removal on a risk basis.”

TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said of the report: “The proposal from the all-party group for the safe removal and disposal of asbestos from all workplaces and public buildings is the only way of ensuring that future generations do not have to live with the continuing legacy that asbestos will leave unless action is taken now.

“The effects of exposure to asbestos at work continue to cause thousands of deaths every year. Yet asbestos is still with us in around half a million workplaces and public buildings across the UK.

“As a result, more than 15 years after the use of asbestos was banned, hundreds of thousands of workers are still put at risk of exposure every day.”

GMB and CWU members can make their personal injury claims with UnionLine. If you or a family member have contracted an asbestos-related disease, you may be able to make a personal injury claim.

Call 0300 333 0303 to make your industrial disease claim with UnionLine