New guidelines for asbestos killer

AN anti-asbestos campaigner has welcomed the introduction of new guidelines to try to reduce the number of people killed by the lethal dust.The guidelines were released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after the death of nearly 1,500 people in the East of England from asbestos-related diseases.

By Tracey Sparling

By TRACEY SPARLING

tracey.sparling@eveningstar.co.uk

AN anti-asbestos campaigner has welcomed the introduction of new guidelines to try to reduce the number of people killed by the lethal dust.

The guidelines were released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after the death of nearly 1,500 people in the East of England from asbestos-related diseases.

The new regulations, part of the Control of Asbestos At Work Regulations 2002 will require those people with responsibilities for the repair and maintenance of non-domestic premises to find out if asbestos is present.

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They will also need to assess and manage any risk from asbestos and report it to the authorities.

The Evening Star has consistently campaigned for the rights of asbestosis victims, first in the 1980s when the Cliff Quay power station in Ipswich was demolished, and again since 1997 with our Silent Killer campaign.

Andrew Davidson, of the Norwich-based Asbestos and Respiratory Industrial Disease Association (Arid) which covers the region, said that the publishing of the guidelines was good news for employees.

He said: "It means that all commercial properties must have the building inspected for asbestos before it can be declared fit for work.

"But the guidelines do mean that there is going to be economic implications for the owners of the buildings. The inspectors will let them know if they find asbestos and then it will be up to them to clear it up."

One of the city's largest landlords is Norfolk County Council.

It has already received £2 million in funding to remove asbestos from public buildings and council homes.

Kerry Glazier, spokeswoman for the council, said: "We have already completed a full asbestos survey of all our properties and secured funding for asbestos removal work in 2003/4.

"We will probably need to employ two surveyors who will survey our properties routinely as and when they are needed – for instance when buildings are altered

or when a tenancy changes.

"For the next five years after that we are looking to secure about £4 million, although the actual figure could be smaller depending on future PFI contracts."

Asbestos was widely used in the construction of buildings until it was linked to potentially fatal lung diseases. It was identified as the largest occupational health killer in the second half of the 20th century.

Nick Brown, minister responsible for health and safety, said there could be as many as 500,000 premises in the UK that contain asbestos.

He said: "There is no medical intervention for those already exposed. But we can certainly do much to prevent exposures today and prevent painful and prolonged illness and death in the future."