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The Government has officially rejected the recommendations set out by the Work and Pensions Select Committee in its April report about the removal of asbestos from public buildings.
Asbestos is a mineral that breaks down into tiny fibres. When these fibres are inhaled, they cause scarring and inflammation within the body. This can lead to dangerous or even fatal health conditions such as asbestosis, pleural thickening and cancers like mesothelioma.
Although the usage of asbestos has been banned for over 20 years, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimates that it can still be found in over 300,000 public buildings in Britain.
The Work and Pensions Select Committee drew attention to this in their report, and also highlighted that asbestos remains the biggest cause of workplace-related deaths in the UK.
To tackle asbestos, the Select Committee recommended that:
On 21 July, the Government published its response to the Work and Pensions Select Committee report. It rejected the report’s recommendations, in a move described by the Committee Chair Stephen Timms MP, as ‘extremely disappointing’.
The Government claimed there is already a plan to manage asbestos under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, and that creating a register of buildings would lead to the duplication of existing information. It also argued that setting a deadline to remove asbestos from public buildings would encourage risky and poorly controlled asbestos removal.
Alison Sayers is a specialist asbestos disease solicitor from Novum Law’s Southampton team. Speaking after the Government rejected the Select Committee’s recommendations, she said:
“Asbestos exposure is an issue that causes real harm and suffering to people and their loved ones. Although the reasons the Government has given for rejecting the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s recommendations appear reasonable, the problem is that they ultimately amount to kicking the can down the road.
“Having a set deadline for the removal of asbestos provides a tangible, measurable target for the elimination of asbestos from public buildings. Here at Novum Law, we see the tragic consequences of ordinary working people experiencing asbestos exposure in public buildings such as schools, hospitals, shops, and offices. We know that in over 300,000 public buildings this risk remains and can only intensify as the buildings age.
“We are in a race against time and this is a more urgent issue than the Government seem to recognise in their response. More money and greater action are needed but sadly, it does not currently seem that this will be provided.”
If you or a loved one have been affected by asbestos exposure it’s important to speak to a specialist asbestos disease lawyer as soon as possible, as you may be able to claim compensation. For a free, no obligation chat about how Novum Law can help you on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis, call us on 0800 884 0777, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete our online form.
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