Welsh government issues asbestos warning to councils

A Welsh government minister has written to the heads of all local authorities and registered social landlords directing them to tighten up their procedures for dealing with asbestos.

After being lobbied by the Ucatt construction union, Lesley Griffiths – minister for communities and tackling poverty – reminded councils to ensure that information on asbestos was be passed to maintenance contractors and cautioned against over-reliance on sample surveys.

In her letter Ms Griffiths said:

“I would like to emphasise the need for action to minimise the risk for both tenants and for those who work in the repair and maintenance of social housing. Where contractors are used by a social landlord for improvement works, it is important for information from surveys and the asbestos register to be passed to the contractor in a timely and accurate manner.”

Ucatt regional secretary for Wales, Nick Blundell, welcomed the intervention:

“If you don’t take asbestos seriously, more and more people will continue to die from exposure. Our members in the social housing maintenance sector face this danger on a daily basis. Poor and inadequate surveying can leave maintenance workers up to their eyeballs in asbestos dust – without any protection.”