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The HSE recently invited responses are part of its post-implementation review of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR 2012) are being implemented. Despite asbestos being banned in the UK, it is still present in many older buildings. The Regulations set out how this asbestos should be managed. The review looks at how effective Regulations have been in terms of keep us safe from the dangers of asbestos. The HSE is due to publish its report in 2022. Our response to the review is below:

CAR 2012 should be both retained & strengthened.

The presumption underpinning CAR 2012 at present is that asbestos is safe providing it is in a good condition & that it is undisturbed.

In practice, this gives unscrupulous duty holders too much leeway to retain asbestos indefinitely, as they can simply argue that is in a good condition (even when this is not the case). Unscrupulous duty holders face next to no risk of being subject to effective enforcement action (for example from the HSE). Workers who speak out about concerns about asbestos risk victimisation & intimidation.

Even well meaning duty holders are faced with the absurd situation where they feel they must leave asbestos in good condition in place. This, officially, is the “safest option”. The situation it absurd because if asbestos is left in place, sooner or later it will inevitably deteriorate or be disturbed. It is often far easier- and therefore safer- to remove asbestos in a planned way when it is still in good condition rather than once it has already deteriorated or been disturbed.

Duty holders should be told to remove all asbestos from their premises by 2035 at the very latest. The HSE and other bodies should be given the powers and the resources they need to enforce both CAR 2012 and the 2035 deadline.

In Greater Manchester, cases of mesothelioma remain stubbornly high, and increasingly many of those being diagnosed were exposed while working in buildings containing asbestos, rather than while handling asbestos themselves. The problem of asbestos in in pre-2000 buildings will grow as the condition of the asbestos deteriorates.”