Time to get tough on asbestos, says IOSH

Stronger measures on asbestos management are needed to save lives, according to the global body for health and safety professionals. A lack of consistency in managing asbestos among duty holders and a lack of awareness and knowledge about the material, particularly among smaller businesses, are among the issues concerning the UK-based Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

IOSH has highlighted those concerns in a verbal and written submission to the UK Work and Pensions Committee, which is undertaking an inquiry into the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) approach to asbestos management. It said although the regulations have been around in the UK for some time, the “full implementation and application” of them is lacking through the responsibility chain, which is putting lives at risk. “Awareness is not reaching down to those who are fulfilling those roles, coming into contact with the hazard and those who are placed at risk.” IOSH said.

The safety professionals’ body is keen to see stronger measures introduced, with a collective effort by policy makers, government, regulators, employers and worker representatives.

“We know that asbestos is still all around us. This, coupled with a worrying lack of awareness about the danger it poses and how to prevent exposure, means people are being put at risk every day,” IOSH head of health and safety Ruth Wilkinson said. “This is simply not good enough. There are many measures which can be taken to prevent exposure and we would like to see a collective effort to ensure that these are put in place and used across industry. Only by doing this can we begin to stop people being exposed to asbestos and being placed at risk of contracting an awful disease. It’s time to get tough with asbestos.”


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