UK will tighten too weak asbestos law

The UK version of a European Union-wide law on asbestos safety is to be amended after the European Commission (EC) ruled it is illegally lax. In a 28 April statement to the trade union magazine Hazards, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) ‘confirmed its agreement’ with the EC’s finding that the UK had actually under-implemented Europe’s asbestos law. Unions had maintained from the outset the UK law fell dangerously short of the legal controls required by a 2003 EC directive ‘on the protection of workers from the risks of asbestos.’ The February 2011 ‘reasoned opinion’ from the EC, in response to a 2006 complaint from the Asbestos Removal Contractors Association, gave the government two months to amend the law or face possible action at the EU’s Court of Justice. In response to an approach from Hazards, HSE issued a statement admitting the UK asbestos law was not good enough. The 28 April statement noted: ‘The UK has confirmed its agreement to a reasoned opinion by the European Commission. Discussions are under way with the Commission about next steps.’ The EC found the UK had misinterpreted requirements on ‘sporadic and low intensity exposure to asbestos’ to justify the exclusion of considerable amounts of asbestos work from asbestos licensing, health assessments and exposure recording requirements. Commenting on the original EC reasoned opinion, TUC said it nails the myth the UK ‘gold-plates’ Euro laws (Risks 487), one of the claims by the government and the business lobby to be examined by the Löfstedt review of health and safety.
Source TUC