Call For Softer Asbestos Laws – What Impact Will it Have on Safety?

Asbestos Laws

When designing laws that will protect everyone on a daily basis, people welcome strict and rigid enforcement, if it ensures that they and their families can go about their lives in a safe environment. However, when someone tries to campaign to make the laws on something less harsh, it can be understandably concerning. And that is exactly what someone is attempting to do; only it is regarding the worrying topic of asbestos.

So, what’s going on?

Concerns have been raised over the actions of Steve Baker, who is a recently appointed Brexit minister. Mr Baker has a long history of campaigning to weaken the laws surrounding asbestos and that the government makes the removal of the substances less of a priority. The existing legislation was put in place by the European Union, which is why it is now concerning as we are on the run-up to the withdrawal from the EU completely. The worry is that Mr Baker will use his position once the withdrawal has been completed in order to weaken the laws and reduce the crackdown on asbestos, having been noted as asking the secretary of state for work and pensions will ‘commission an inquiry into the appropriateness of the health and safety precautions in force in respect of asbestos cement’, back in October of 2010.

What impact will softer asbestos laws have on our safety?

A weaker emphasis on these laws could be very concerning for the safety of people living in older buildings (any building built before 2000). As some people may be aware, asbestos was used in the construction of older buildings due to it being a robust and fire-resistant material. However, once the hazardous nature of asbestos came to light, the use of asbestos declined. Although there was a decline in the use of asbestos it was not completely banned in the UK until November 1999. As a result of the amount of asbestos present within buildings, there has been a duty to manage asbestos in all non-domestic premises enforced since 2004. Asbestos can be present in all types of building, but was heavily used in schools. A weaker asbestos law in this regard could lead to the asbestos not being removed or even managed correctly, if it stops being a priority. This means that poorly managed asbestos present in public buildings, including primary and secondary schools, could all help to contribute to the number of asbestos-related deaths.

There were 2,542 mesothelioma deaths recorded in 2015 due to past asbestos exposures. This was a slight increase from 2,515 recorded in 2014. There were similar numbers of lung cancer deaths linked to past exposures to asbestos at the same time. Although these numbers are high, the death rates associated with asbestos exposure is estimated to decrease at the end of the current decade. This decrease will corollate with the various legislative changes which were specifically put in place to control the risks and prevent exposure to asbestos. Any weakening in asbestos laws could see this predicted decrease reverse.

Overall, a call for weaker asbestos laws could be very alarming and present a large impact on our safety and future death rates. If asbestos laws are made less effective, so that asbestos management is not such an enforced law, then people who work in older offices, on construction sites, or even young children who attend schools could all be exposed to asbestos. Regarding an impact, this could be very, very dangerous for the general public, and every action should be taken to ensure that these laws are not altered or damaged in any way.

If you would like to speak with one of our asbestos consultants about anything asbestos related, you can contact the team by clicking here. Alternatively, find out more of what we do in our services.

Neil Munro

I work in a dual role at Acorn Analytical Services focused primarily on growing and leading the business from our Northampton office base. My focus is on overseeing all sales, marketing and financial activities from Northampton. I assist clients with high-level asbestos management strategies and training. Together with Ian Stone I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I'm Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

Need Help? Request a Call Back

Request a call back from one of our expert Asbestos Consultants who will help you identify what you need

More Asbestos Articles

Acorn School Site 26 e1634213147938

School holidays are the perfect time for asbestos surveys

When you think of the upcoming October half-term holiday, asbestos surveys and asbestos-related works might not be the first thing that spring to mind. Fortunately, many schools and colleges wisely choose to use their breaks to get on top of their asbestos issues by organising asbestos surveys or carrying out works which – without the … Read more

Acorn campaign targets asbestos in schools.

Asbestos in schools to be tackled by new Acorn campaign

This week we were proud to launch a hard-hitting campaign targeting the issue of asbestos in schools. If you read our blog last week you will know that more than 20 years after the UK banned the use of asbestos here, it’s estimated that a high percentage of our schools still contain the deadly substance. … Read more

Is the UK ignoring its problem with asbestos in schools?

Is the UK ignoring its problem with asbestos in schools?

Did you know that the UK has a significant problem with asbestos in schools? More than two decades since the use of asbestos was banned in the UK, it’s estimated that eight out of 10 of our schools still contain the deadly substance. Throughout the 20th century, asbestos was used frequently by our construction industry, … Read more

National Mesothelioma Awareness Day c5810986 e1632385966395

Raising awareness about mesothelioma

This Sunday, Americans, their federal departments and agencies and their media are being called upon to observe the annual US National Mesothelioma Awareness Day with ceremonies and activities. Back in 2010, September 26 was earmarked by the US Congress as a special day to raise the American public’s awareness about mesothelioma and to encourage all … Read more

worker 6544391 1920 e1631783205514

UK house builder becomes first to divert asbestos away from landfill

We’ve heard some fantastic news about asbestos in the UK during the past few days. Leading developer Lovell has become the first UK house builder to actively tackle the challenge of asbestos waste. The firm is collaborating with Wolverhampton-based Thermal Recycling to safely package and convert asbestos waste into a safe and reusable cement substitute. … Read more

road sign 4244285 1920 e1631178843233

Asbestos causes a headache for constructor and neighbouring businesses

Asbestos hit the headlines once again this week when it brought a construction project grinding to a halt, closed off a town centre road and disrupted nearby businesses. The Stoke Sentinel has published an article sharing the frustrations of businesses in Piccadilly Arcade in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, who were unable to access their parking spaces or … Read more

surgery 3034071 1920 e1630572942721

Looking after asbestos will help us all breathe more easily

Many people have lives filled with work and family and 101 other activities that take up our days. So, today we’d like you to do something for us – just pause for a second and take a deep breath in and a deep breath out. Did you manage to do it? The average person takes … Read more

Acorn Samples 6 e1629960810872

Concerns raised about asbestos on British beach

Most of us love a seaside holiday but sadly one of Britain’s beaches hit the headlines last week for all the wrong reasons. You may remember that back in May we ran a blog on ‘Are holidaymakers in danger of finding asbestos on beaches?’ which highlighted a number of British beaches where asbestos had been … Read more

Acorn Jan 2020 Low Res 49 e1629361953760

Acorn receives the backing of major organisations

At Acorn Analytical Services we are very proud of the wide range of asbestos management and training services that we provide. We are proud to say we’re a fully independent and impartial company and that clients can be confident that the results and recommendations they receive from us will always be in their best interests. … Read more

building plan 354233 1920 e1628755740921

Will planning reform put more people at risk from asbestos?

There have been lots of concerns raised in the national press recently about new planning reforms which mean a wider range of commercial properties can now be converted into flats. The reforms came into force at the beginning of this month in a bid to regenerate city centres which have struggled during the pandemic. However, … Read more