Government rejects the Select Committee’s key recommendation on removing asbestos within 40 years

The Work and Pensions Select Committee has published the government’s response to its report on how the Health and Safety Executive manages asbestos.

What the government says in its response

In the response, the government rejects the Committee’s key recommendation. The Committee members had called for a strategy to deal with the risks posed by asbestos. In particular, they wanted the government to set a 40-year deadline for removing all asbestos from public and commercial buildings.

Asbestos is still the single biggest workplace killer

The chair of the Committee, the Rt Hon Sir Stephen Timms MP, said: “The government argues that fixing a deadline for asbestos removal would increase the opportunity for exposure. But the risk is likely to increase anyway with the drive towards retrofitting buildings to meet net zero aspirations. Setting a clear target should just be one part of a new properly joined-up strategy. Asbestos is still the single greatest cause of work-related fatalities in the country.”

Despite asbestos being banned more than two decades ago, the material remains in around 300,000 non-domestic buildings. There were more than 7,000 asbestos-related deaths in 2019, including 5,000 from cancers such as mesothelioma.

Picture: webercw via Flickr, CC BY-NC-2.0

Further information

Inquiry: Health and Safety Executive’s approach to asbestos management

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