Work and Pensions Committee launch an inquiry into the HSE’s handling of asbestos in existing buildings
Given that asbestos has been banned in the UK since 1999, it’s a tragic fact that asbestos-related diseases are the UK’s largest cause of fatalities each year. More than 5,000 people are dying annually from diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis, caused by exposure to the material at some point. Tragically, even family members have been affected, due to handling of contaminated laundry and inhaling the fibres brought home.
Concerns were raised to UK Government about the ongoing management strategies for existing buildings that contain asbestos, given that the UK has the highest asbestos-related death rate in the world.
The Committee’s inquiry will aim to identify current asbestos risks in the UK, strategies adopted by the HSE to mitigate them, and how processes can be improved to reduce future risks to health, based on what other countries are doing successfully.
Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said:
“Despite being banned for more than 20 years, the impact of asbestos is still devastating lives. Thousands of people die from asbestos-related illness every year.
With the UK death rate from asbestos-related illness the highest in the world, there are serious concerns about how the material is being dealt with compared with how it is managed in other countries, such as France. The HSE is rightly looking into how asbestos can be handled more safely, and the Committee’s inquiry will help to make sure monitoring and regulations are as effective and safe as they can possibly be.”
The Committee are asking for input, so if you have opinions or information that you can share to support this valuable research, you can do so by following the link below.
Here are the questions to be considered:
Terms of reference
The Committee would like to hear views on the following questions. You don’t have to answer all of the questions. You can respond on behalf of an organisation, or as an individual.
What are the current risks posed by asbestos in the workplace? Which groups of workers are most at risk?
How effective is the current legislative and regulatory framework for the management of asbestos?
How does HSE’s approach to managing asbestos compare to the approach taken in other countries? Are there lessons that the UK could learn from best practice elsewhere?
How does HSE measure and report its progress in mitigating the risks of asbestos?
Does HSE keep adequate records of asbestos in public buildings?
Is HSE making best use of available technology and systems to monitor the safety of asbestos which remains in buildings?
Does HSE commit adequate resources to asbestos management in line with the level of risk?
How robust is the available data about the risks and impact of asbestos in the workplace? What gaps in evidence need to be filled?
Is HSE drawing on a wide body of international and national regulatory and industry expertise to inform its approach to the management of asbestos safety in buildings?
How effectively does HSE engage with external stakeholders and experts about its approach to the regulation of asbestos?
The deadline for submissions is Friday 17 September.