The HSE Post Implementation Review of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012:
To: All Branches
This is a review carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that is required by regulation 35 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. The review examines whether the regulations have been, and continue to be, the most effective means of minimising Asbestos exposure to workers and the public arising from work on buildings that contain Asbestos.
The purpose of a post implementation review (PIR) is to evaluate the existing regulatory framework, rather than to examine government policy regarding Asbestos.
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR 2012) set minimum standards for the protection of employees and others from the risks related to exposure to Asbestos.
The HSE statistics state that on average, twenty workers die every week from Asbestos related diseases, including construction workers, carpenters, electricians, facilities maintenance workers, painters and decorators etc, all of whom could come into contact with deadly Asbestos as they go about their day-to-day work.
Asbestos can be found in walls, ceilings, fabric or structure of a building, as well as a host of other places like floor tiles, ceiling tiles, roof panels, wall boards, roof spaces, lagging, insulation, boilers, boiler rooms, heating systems, toilet cisterns, guttering soffits etc. It can be disturbed by basic maintenance work like drilling holes and sanding and once disturbed, the microscopic fibres can be lethal if breathed in, causing lung disease and cancer.
Report Conclusions Summary:
The report from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) highlights the positive impact and influence of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR2012) on workplace Asbestos control and safety as well as an estimate that the financial benefit of the impact of the Regulations has been £28.8 Billion.
The Post Implementation Review reinforces the extent to which the regulations have achieved their initial objectives and assesses the costs and benefits that might be attributed to them.
In this respect the review provides an interesting evaluation of how the legislation has been implemented and an indication of how the regulations are working.
Overall the report demonstrates how CAR2012 has met its objectives and has helped to achieve a high level of compliance. The report also contains an interesting cost benefit analysis and an economic evaluation of the measures designed to prevent exposure to Asbestos fibres in the workplace.
Analysis carried out by HSE epidemiologists estimates that the fall in exposure to Asbestos between 1980 (the rough date of introduction of Asbestos control measures) and 2015 will lead to 25,700 fewer deaths from mesothelioma and lung cancer in the 100 years between 2001 and 2100.
By applying HSE estimates of the costs to society of work-related cancer, the report calculates that by preventing this number of cancer cases, the present value of the benefits of the regulations to society is £20.9 billion. In addition, taking into account the time lag and legacy health effects associated with asbestos diseases, when this scenario is rolled forward to cover the 2016 – 2115 period, the benefit value rises to £28.8 billion.
Although the report points out that not all of these prevented deaths can be attributed to the regulations, the figures nevertheless provide a clear indication of the scale of the considerable impact that regulations have had in controlling workplace exposures far more successfully than in the past.
Moreover this positive influence is particularly emphasised when the benefits are measured in relation to the compliance costs for business, which the reports puts at hundreds of millions of pounds each year or as high single billions over the 100 year, 2016 – 2115 period.
The research, analysis and evidence discussed in the review therefore provides the unequivocal conclusion that CAR2012 has met its objectives and has helped to achieve improving level of compliance.
This progress will have also obviously been assisted by an increasing number of cases prosecuted by the HSE and Local Authorities as well as Government moves via the Sentencing Council to increase many of the maximum fines available to the Courts, as well as making imprisonment for offenders more widely available.
As a result of the overall findings by the HSE, the report recommends that that no major amendments are required to the provisions of CAR2012 and that the regulations successfully strengthen the protection given to those who might otherwise be exposed to fibres from Asbestos containing materials (ACMs).
However, the report does highlight some areas where it says that minor improvements might be introduced including exploring the possibility of changing the frequency of medical examinations for those undertaking licensed asbestos work, from every two years to every three years. Something the Trade Union will not support.
In addition, it is suggested that greater clarity around the distinction between licensable, non-licensable and notifiable work with Asbestos would be an advantage, as would better information on the responsibilities of duty holders in non-domestic premises and the provision of practical examples of written work plans.
Overall, whilst improvements would undoubtedly provide some welcome clarifications going forward, the firm outcome of the HSE review is that CAR 2012 continues to provide a robust and effective regulatory framework that is effectively protecting workers from the risks associated with exposure to Asbestos fibres.
Although the TUC and all UK Unions welcome the retention of the Regulations that we helped to shape, the TUC has labelled the HSE’s Post Implementation Review report as being ‘complacent’. The opportunity to look at the possible effect of improving controls has been missed completely. The proposal to reduce the frequency of the legally required medical examinations of those undertaking the highest risk ‘licensed’ work from every two to three years is seen by the TUC and all the UK Trade Unions as unjustified and irresponsible.
A key concern is the repeated statement in the HSE document that the 5,000 UK deaths a year linked to Asbestos are the result of past exposures when the carcinogen was “less well-regulated than today”. The fact is that there is clearly an ongoing high level of under-reporting of Asbestos exposure as many workers are not likely to be aware of their exposures as was confirmed in a previous 2014 HSE survey (see summary attached).
The TUC, CWU and all UK Unions policy is that employers should be required to remove the millions of tons of Asbestos that is still in place in Workplaces, including schools. Asbestos can be found in millions of workplaces and homes. Over 50,000 people have died in the UK from Mesothelioma as a result of Asbestos exposure, tens of thousands more have died from lung cancer or other asbestos-related diseases. Tens of thousands more will die because of past exposure. How many more will die over and above that will depend on what we do from now, going forward. The fact that government and regulators see the status quo as the best option is a damning indictment of the UK health and safety system.
HSE Asbestos Information:
A new HSE web app can be downloaded at:- www.beware-asbestos.info/news and further information on Asbestos is available on the HSE’s special Asbestos Website pages at:-www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos.
• Copy of the HSE “The Post Implementation Review of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR 2012).
• Copy of the HSE Survey of Tradespeople undertaken by Censuswide on Asbestos Knowledge (2014).
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer
Email Attachments – Click to download
LTB 437/17 The HSE Post Implementation Review of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012
Post Implementation Review
HSE Survey of Tradespeople