MPs Wage in on Asbestos Regulations
MPs and campaigners are calling time on asbestos, as the deadly substance still kills more than 5000 people annually, despite being banned for over 20 years.
A former estate agent in Leeds, Rose Hall, has been diagnosed with mesothelioma at the age of 63. Mesothelioma is an incurable cancer that has only a 2% survival rate, despite the fact that as much as 94% of cases are preventable.
Although asbestos is no longer in use, it can still be found in more than 300,000 buildings nationwide. These buildings include schools, hospitals and community centres. Plus, asbestos is still present in more than 1 million domestic buildings across the country.
Couple that with the fact that asbestos-related diseases are the number one workplace killer in the UK, a country that has one of the highest mesothelioma rates in the world, and it becomes easy to see why campaigners are so desperate to put an end to this material.
The Work and Pensions Committee Stepped In
In 2022, the Work and Pensions committee suggested a measurable target, to remove all asbestos from non-domestic buildings by 2062, with committee chair Stephen Timms calling asbestos-related deaths “one of the greatest workplace tragedies of modern times”.
However, the UK government rejected these recommendations, instead arguing that asbestos remains safe so long as it is undisturbed. On the other side of the debate, trade unions believe the government is putting lives at risk by not implementing asbestos eradication goals in the workplace.
The health and safety policy officer at the Trade Union Congress said “The government’s policy is that asbestos is safe if it is left in situ… but we would say, asbestos will always be disturbed, especially in buildings like schools where you’ve got children running around… lots of schools are at risk of collapse currently. It needs to be removed”.
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