We all know that exposure to Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) is dangerous. Case studies and medical evidence over the years has shown that conditions such as Asbestosis, Mesothelioma and other respiratory conditions arise discreetly over many years after initial exposure. As a result of this, the European Commission (EC) and UK Government introduced legislation and supplementary guidance to ensure that employers keep their workforce safe when working with this dangerous material.
The current asbestos regulations are set to change in April 2012 subject to parliamentary approval. Recently it was highlighted that the previous Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 had not fully implemented the European Directive. The EC have given the UK Government two months to bring the legislation into line. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have accepted this opinion and propose the following changes.
- Article 4 relates to notification – there will be a new notification system relating to three new categories (Licenced and notifiable; non-licensed and notifiable; and non-licensed and non-notifiable)
- Article 15 relates to medical surveillance
- Article 16 relates to exposure records
The main change is that employers carrying out some types of non-licensed work will now be required to notify the enforcing authority of that work, ensure workers have medical examinations at least once every 3 years and keep a record of the work done by each worker. Another change to be considered is that there will be a three year transition period to April 2015, before the new requirement for workers carrying out some types of non-licensed work to have a medical examination comes into force.
The need to undertake a risk assessment will remain unchanged from the previous Regulations, as will the necessity to implement the identified control measures and train employees. The work for which a licence is required and the requirements relating to licensed workers will also remain the same.
The proposed changes will not be in the form of an amendment but as a completely new set of Regulations entitled the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. The HSE are planning to produce a series of guidance documents to accompany the new Regs.