Specialist Welcomes Proposed Changes To Guidelines
The consultation launched to consider proposed changes to the Control of Asbestos Regulations has been welcomed by an expert at Irwin Mitchell.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, the aim of the revisions is to bring them in line with the current European Union directive on the exemption of some low-risk work from three requirements related to the notification of work, medical examinations and record keeping.
Under the proposals, three categories of work will be brought into use rather than the existing two. The new system will be:
- licensed work, in which all requirements apply
- non-licensed, which means employers do not need to undertake medical examinations, keep work registers, hold licences or designate asbestos areas
- the new category of non-licensed work in which requirements to hold a licence and designate asbestos areas will be exempt.
The consultation by the HSE is expected to run until November 4th, while it is believed that more than 600,000 workers currently undertake work which would fall into the new category.
Adrian Budgen, a Partner and head of the national asbestos disease litigation team at Irwin Mitchell, said these new changes will play an important role in ensuring more firms are complying with regulations related to asbestos.
He explained: “We deal with a very large number of cases in which employers have failed to take adequate steps to protect workers and the public from asbestos exposure and the potential danger of contracting related illnesses such as mesothelioma.
“This change is a welcome step towards improving the level of information available in relation to short-term projects deemed to be a ‘low risk’ in relation to contact with the deadly material.
“Ultimately, the aim of the changes is to ensure businesses involved in asbestos-related projects are looking to comply with all of the necessary regulations – ultimately with a view to keeping workers safe from any potential harm.
“Too many mistakes have been made in the past in relation to the dangers of asbestos, but changes like this should go some way to protecting future generations. The move is forcing the HSE and the UK to fall in line with European guidelines and take a tougher stance on asbestos, something which arguably should have been done sooner.”