Despite being banned more than 20 years ago, the WPC estimates that asbestos still exists in around 300,000 non-domestic buildings, including schools
A report from the Work and Pensions Committee (WPC) has called on the government to commit to a strategy to remove all asbestos from public and commercial buildings by 2062.
Despite being banned more than 20 years ago, the WPC estimates that asbestos still exists in around 300,000 non-domestic buildings, including schools.
However, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is yet to provide a clear time frame and strategy for its total removal, nor does it provide evidence-based ‘safe and effective’ removal techniques, according to the report.
Asbestos is still the greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK, linked to more than 5,000 deaths in 2019 alone, including cancers and long-term injury from past exposure.
The committee cited a growing public health risk as buildings are adapted in line with the move to net zero and other energy efficiency targets, disturbing the toxic materials in the process.
There is evidence that the extreme exposures of the 20th century are a thing of the past, but the WPC feels that HSE is not doing enough to assess current levels and should adopt a more structured approach to collecting data on current exposure levels.
The committee is therefore calling for a cross-government approach with a ‘system-wide strategy for the long-term removal’ is needed, stating that reliance on the current asbestos regulations will not be good enough, and for an increase in asbestos inspections and enforcement activity.
It repeated its June 2020 calls for more funding for the programme, stating: HSE has been slow to invest in research into the costs and benefits of removal, and to evaluate options for its safe removal.