A report by the all-party parliamentary group on occupational safety and health calls for regulations requiring the safe, phased and planned removal of all the remaining asbestos in Britain.
The parliamentary group found asbestos is still a serious threat. This year, according to official figures, 5000 people in Britain are likely to die prematurely as a result of asbestos exposure. This is around three times the number of road accident deaths.
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.”
The TUC has welcomed the report and its recommendations. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“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.
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.”
Brian Rye, National Secretary of UCATT, said:
“This report demonstrates that new regulations are urgently needed in order to ensure that construction workers undertaking maintenance and refurbishment work are properly protected.
Workers should not be expected to play Russian roulette with their health.”
Unite national officer John Allott added:
“Five thousand people die prematurely every year as a result of asbestos exposure.
This is around three times the number of deaths caused by road traffic accidents, highlighting that asbestos is still with us and as dangerous as ever.”