No Time To Lose Report on Breaches of Asbestos Regulations

Presently, at least 5,000 deaths every year in Britain can be linked to asbestos exposure, despite having been banned in 1999.

Last Friday, No Time To Lose (NTTL), the occupational cancer campaign founded by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), reported that 135 companies or individuals were ordered to cease work activities because of non-compliance with asbestos regulations, from January 2018 to-date.[1]

A further 130 companies or individuals were warned that they must improve, while 31 companies or individuals were prosecuted for breaches of health and safety regulations.

Moreover, Judges have imposed fines, totalling £933,277 (ranging from £1 to £200,000), and some directors have been given custodial sentences.

Bev Messinger, IOSH Chief Executive, considers it to be unacceptable that, 20 years on from asbestos being banned in Britain, organisations are still potentially putting at risk the lives of employees, their families and other members of the public’.

We have previously reported, in BC Disease News, that workers in schools and hospitals are at particular risk of asbestos exposure.

With asbestos still present in in the ‘roofing, spray coatings, lagging, insulating boards, ropes, yarns and cloth’ of at least 500,000 buildings constructed before the millennium, IOSH has expressed concern over ‘widespread lack of awareness and uncertainty on how to manage it’, especially among ‘small and medium-sized organisations’.

Dr. Nick Hopkinson, Medical Director at the British Lung Foundation, emphasised that:

‘It's vital companies are vigilant and take the proper precautions to protect people from the life-threatening dangers of asbestos, and take urgent action if asbestos has been found’.[2]

In 2018, an IOSH survey found that 25% of 500 electricians, carpenters, joiners and roofers admitted to having been exposed to asbestos, while 33% admitted to never checking the asbestos register before starting work on a new site. We reported this in edition 226 (here).

 

[1] ‘Asbestos exposure putting lives at risk 20 years since ban’ (29 March 2019 No Time To Lose) <https://www.notimetolose.org.uk/news-and-events/20-years-since-ban/> accessed 4 April 2019.

[2] Sarah Knapton, Asbestos still killing 5,000 Britons each year, 20 years after ban’ (1 April 2019 The Telegraph) <https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2019/03/31/asbestos-still-killing-5000-britons-year-20-years-ban/> accessed 3 April 2019.