Starting in May 2021, HSE will be consulting a wide range of stakeholders about the Control of Asbestos Regulation 2012.
The first post-implementation review of these regulations was published in 2017, making this consultation part of the second PIR for these regulations.
The review will seek to establish if the regulations continue to meet their objectives, remain appropriate and are still the best means to minimise exposure to asbestos.
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 came into force on 6th April 2012 and updated the previous asbestos regulations. These new regulations took into account the EU Directive on exposure to asbestos (Directive 2009/148/EC), which was considered by the European Commission to be in need of full implementation in the UK.
As a result of these new regulations there were some changes that were made, but these were fairly limited in practice. These changes included types of non-licensed work with asbestos that required, as a result of the new regulations, to obtain additional requirements, such as; notifications of work, medical surveillance and record keeping. You can find a full break down of the changes and what remained the same in the regulations here.
Asbestos continues to be the biggest occupational disease risk to construction workers, with an estimated 5500 deaths per annum. Since asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, it was extensively used throughout the UK for around 150 years, until the late 1990s. Due to its nature, asbestos was ideal to use as a fireproofing and insulating material, and was used extensively until the various health hazards of this material were fully identified and understood. This means that asbestos is still present in a large number of buildings and building maintenance workers and tradespeople remain at the most significant risk, as they can be unknowingly exposed to asbestos-containing materials.
When you become exposed to asbestos, you breathe the fibre in, usually through the dust, and these fibres enter your lungs and will gradually damage them over time. The longer you are exposed to these fibres the more accumulates within your lungs, creating greater damage and leading to more serious diseases, such as cancer.
Asbestos can cause two types of cancer; Mesothelioma and Asbestos-related lung cancer. Alongside cancer, asbestos is also linked to serious lung diseases such as; Asbestosis and Diffuse pleural thickening.
With this in mind, the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 help to manage and minimise the exposure to this harmful material and the review helps to shape these regulations to the current industry requirements.