About the campaign

Currently the UK’s health and safety standards allow for asbestos to remain undisturbed and left in-situ. The HSE believes the risk is ‘negligible’ if asbestos remains undamaged and is not disturbed. But the UK’s current air monitoring regime permits levels of air borne asbestos which are ten times greater than the acceptable levels in Germany and Holland.

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The ultimate goal of this campaign is to reorder the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) parameters around this product so that they are properly reviewed and amended to reflect the genuine risks to public safety. This would, as a minimum, bring UK regulation into line with the best practice of other European nations.

Objectives

  • To review and revise the ‘Duty to Manage’ in line with practice and evidence that has emerged in the last two decades, to ensure it remains fit for purpose.
     

  • To ensure that the ‘amphibole hypothesis’ – that amosite and crocidolite present a significantly higher risk - is acknowledged and accepted within HSE’s risk assessment algorithm.
     

  • To amend HSE guidance, risk assessments, and priority assessment to take account of early exposure (e.g. secondary schools and social housing present double risk; primary schools - quadruple risk).
     

  • To assure (rather than assume) buildings are safe, through periodic sensitive air monitoring based upon revised risk/priority assessment, which are in line with the best international practice, as a minimum. (There is no current evidence of exposure because we are not looking for it: that is not to say that people are not being exposed).
     

  • To improve the regime for the reporting of disturbance to asbestos materials. AMAP 2019, records no incidents of disturbance to asbestos in schools over 5 years. This is highly unlikely and therefore contestable – it suggests that asbestos exposure is not being adequately reported.
     

  • To ensure that the reporting regime reflects that children are both:

    • At greater risk of harm due to exposure, and

    • Liable to cause disturbance (e.g. in schools).
       

  • To include domestic properties within the Duty to Manage – where people work in houses that contain asbestos – and to ensure that it is a requirement for homeowners to include an asbestos audit in their ‘home information’ when selling a property.

'Airtight on Asbestos' has been supported by the independent asbestos campaigner Charles Pickles, whom ResPublica would like to thank for his contribution

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