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New deadlines proposed for asbestos removal – again

The all-party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Health and Safety is calling for a new asbestos eradication law, with the aim of seeing asbestos removed from all rented homes, businesses and public buildings by 2035. Although it is 16 years since asbestos was banned from new construction to is still found in hundreds of thousands of workplaces as well as a majority of schools.

Chairman of the Group Ian Lavery MP said: “There is far too much complacency about asbestos.  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.” 

In its report, the group calls for a national programme of asbestos surveys in properties built before 2000 to be carried out 2022. In buildings where materials containing asbestos are uncovered, owners would be required to remove them when carrying out refurbishments or repair work.

Landlords would have to lay out plans to rid public buildings and educational institutions of asbestos by 2028 and other buildings by 2035.

The group is also urging the Health and Safety Executive and local councils to put together timetables for the removal of asbestos from workplaces up and down the country.

Further proposals would see home-buyers’ surveys include a duty to carry out asbestos inspections before any house sale could be completed. Homeowners would then have to pass on information about the presence of the material to any contractors working on the property.

The new report has been welcomed by teaching and construction trade unions who have long campaigned for more efforts to eradicate asbestos.  TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “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.”

Those who have been in the industry for a while will remember that we have been here before.  A similar report in 1999 called for eradication by 2004. It is to be hoped that with deaths from mesothelioma running at 2500 per year the government can be persuaded to a new effort with these more realistic timescales.

Broadland Group carries out surveys and analysis and management plans for a wide range of organisations and authorities. We are also experienced in planning and supervising the removal of asbestos.