2028-2035: An Asbestos Free World
Asbestos was widely used in construction for many years before the downsides and hazards of using it were finally realised. Asbestos remains in many buildings around the UK. Pubs, houses and even schools could still contain asbestos today. Recent times have unearthed the dangers of asbestos, and many establishments have had it removed, but now there seems to be a real push towards total and complete asbestos removal.
The plan for complete removal and disposal of asbestos has been put forward by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) On Occupational Safety and Health, who have proposed that a law come into effect for the ‘safe, phased and planned removal of all the asbestos that still remains in Britain’. The proposed law will mean that by 2035, every trace of asbestos in Britain’s buildings will be removed, in an effort to prevent asbestos related deaths throughout the country. It’s a large scale plan that is multifaceted and implies action and consequences for many parties.
The proposed law relies on a number of deadlines which deal with the identification, planning and actual removal of asbestos in premises across Britain. These are the key proposals of the plan:
- All commercial, public and rented domestic premises will conduct an asbestos survey – performed by an authorised surveyor and registered with the HSE – by 2022.
- Any repair, refurbishment or remedial work planned in a building with asbestos in it should account for the removal of said asbestos. If no work of this nature is planned, then duty holders should make dedicated plans to remove the asbestos.
- The deadline for the removal of asbestos is no later than 2035 – 2028 for public buildings and educational establishments.
- The HSE, local authorities and other enforcing agencies must develop a programme of workplace inspections to verify that all asbestos-containing material is properly marked and managed, and that asbestos eradication plans are in place – including an acceptable timeframe for the eradication.
- Resources should be made available to the enforcing agencies so they can ensure that all workplaces and public places are complying with the regulations and that disposal is being performed safely and responsibly.
- A survey should be performed before any house sale is completed, to ensure that any asbestos-containing material is marked, and information of any present asbestos is given to any contractor working on the house.
While voicing opposition to the continued presence and dangers of asbestos has been considered positive, the plan itself has been met with concerns. The plan is incredibly comprehensive and ambitious – those are only the key points – but it fears surrounding its practicality and cost remain. The main concerns are:
- There currently aren’t enough qualified asbestos surveyors to implement the proposed survey plans. The increase in demand is far too dramatic to be feasible.
- Extra costs associated with removal and surveys will be unwelcome by the HSE, homeowners and landlords alike. The HSE would need a significant increase in staff and resources to cover the work needed. This is especially unrealistic when the continued HSE funding cuts are taken into account.
- The removal of asbestos in good condition – that which is not immediately threatening – may be more hazardous than leaving it where it is.
- The sheer amount of work to undertake is too much for the relatively low amount of Licensed Asbestos Removal Contractors currently in service.
These concerns seem like a realistic, grounding reaction to the proposed law. While it’s generally agreed that asbestos removal is important, the goal may not be achievable with this current plan. However, there are countries with successful asbestos removal programs already in place – Australia and Poland – so there is precedence for a large scale scheme like this to come into effect.
Asbestos removal is a long term goal and any proposed plan or law needs to be carefully scrutinised and appraised. Even if this law never comes to fruition, it is still obvious that the pressure to remove asbestos from buildings is growing stronger, and aspects of this proposed reform might well come into play in some way in the near future.
ProDEM offer professional asbestos removal services throughout Nottingham, Derby, Leicester, and the Midlands region. Our experienced team work with the utmost care to ensure that hazardous materials are removed safely. Our vast knowledge means that we are fully qualified to undertake asbestos surveys in commercial and domestic buildings, and any removals performed are always held to the highest standards and guidelines. If you are in need of asbestos removal in your premises, then don’t hesitate to get in touch today.