The Work and Pensions Select Committee have now published their report on the inquiry into the Health and Safety Executive’s approach to asbestos management. The report can now be found on the Committee’s website. Airtight on Asbestos welcomes the Committee’s findings and recommendations to improve the H&S regime:
To remove all asbestos in 40 years but to prioritise the most hazardous forms of asbestos and buildings at most risk (e.g. schools)
To implement a national strategic plan
To develop a national database and adopt new technologies to make asbestos in buildings transparent
To improve occupational records on death certificates to monitor for asbestos related deaths
To review and improve microscopy techniques.
To review and share the evidence relating to routine, environmental, air monitoring of asbestos fibres.
To ensure HSE's current review of the Control of Asbestos Regulations includes a thorough assessment of moves towards more stringent asbestos occupational exposure limits in Europe, carefully considering their application to the GB context.
The committee has not recommended the introduction of routine sensitive air monitoring, in view of the weight of evidence from some witnesses about the efficacy of this approach. Unfortunately, the argument about detection and prevention in priority buildings (e.g. CLASP schools) where asbestos cannot be checked visually has been lost here. However, the committee has recommended more research on this matter, including further consideration of international best practice. “We recommend that HSE develops and implements a robust research framework for the systematic measurement of current asbestos exposures in non-domestic buildings, using a range of measurement and sampling techniques and informed by international experiences and approaches. It should ensure that adequate consideration is given to exposure measurement in schools and other public buildings. We recommend that HSE publishes its framework by October 2022 and produces findings at frequent intervals thereafter.”