HSE 'wake up call' for asbestos removal industry
Date: Monday, February 11, 2008 @ 15:49:06 GMT
Topic: Health and Safety Executive (HSE) News

HSE 'wake up call' for asbestos removal industry Licensed Asbestos Contractors’ Leadership Summit at Newmarket Racecourse, Newmarket, Wednesday 13th February 2008.

Asbestos-related disease accounts for over 3,500 deaths each year, creating what is the UK’s biggest single cause of work related deaths. Nationally approximately 600 of these deaths each year arise from work with asbestos in the construction industry and allied trades.

To help tackle this problem, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has called its eleventh special leadership summit to ask the asbestos removal industry to make further improvements in reducing ill-health caused by work with asbestos.

The invitation-only summit to many licence holders in Essex, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire – at Newmarket Racecourse, Newmarket, 13th February - follows an assessment of the industry’s performance, which considered whether adequate precautions were being taken to prevent ill health from work with asbestos. It revealed that although the industry collectively had made significant improvements in recent years, there is still room for further advances.

Although standards have improved and the evidence available suggests that the number of deaths will begin to reduce from a predicted peak in 2011, the rate of reduction of incidence is not known. The summit aims to encourage individual organisations to determine the further steps that they can take to reduce exposure to asbestos and so lessen the incidence of disease.

Welcoming the event, Mike Williams, Asbestos Licensing Principal Inspector in HSE’s Field Operations Directorate, said: "We are determined to work with the industry, and our objective is to convince them that higher standards to protect health are achievable and needed. We will explore how individual licence holders can make those necessary improvements and hence reduce the number of deaths from asbestos related diseases."

Steve Sadley, Chief Executive of The Asbestos Removal Contractors Association (ARCA), also welcomed the event, saying: "The main aim of the Asbestos Liaison Group (ALG) has always been to improve standards within the asbestos removal industry. ARCA’s Site Audit Accreditation Scheme has also highlighted the need for greater management awareness in this respect. ARCA are therefore delighted that the HSE has taken this initiative."

The programme for the event will include sessions on:

  • management responsibility;
  • organisational improvement;
  • problems of complacency; and
  • organisational/individual vulnerability.
In addition to these sessions there will be an opportunity for attendees to discuss specific issues with HSE staff and representatives of Trade Associations and Trades Unions.

This is the eleventh event of its type for the industry and a further event will be run in another part of the country.

This article comes from Sheffield Occupational Health and Safety Association (SOHSA)

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