Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Control This Killer, or Face Large Fines

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Control This Killer, or Face Large Fines

Article excerpt

Byline: By Ava Madon

People maintaining or controlling buildings need to be aware of asbestos regulations and the heavy responsibility and potential penalties they impose. Ava Madon , an associate in Robert Muckle's property services group, explains why.

The Health and Safety Executive intends to enforce the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 rigorously and failure to comply with your duty could lead to fines of up to pounds 20,000 in the magistrates court and unlimited fines if the matter is dealt with in a crown court.

The aim of these regulations is to protect maintenance workers and others from asbestos.

Asbestos-related diseases are the biggest occupational killers in the UK. According to Government figures there are some 3,000 deaths per year in the UK from asbestosis and mesothelioma (lung cancer caused by asbestos) and this is expected to rise to 10,000 by 2010. Both diseases can occur anything from 15 to 60 years after exposure.

Carrying out work which might involve exposure to asbestos, such as refurbishing a building containing asbestos, has been highly regulated since 1987.

However, those regulations did not contain any express duty to undertake asbestos surveys of buildings, so property owners and occupiers often did not actually know whether or not asbestos was present and where.

This led to many cases of workers undertaking work which inadvertently exposed them to asbestos ( an extremely dangerous situation because mesothelioma can be contracted by exposure to just one fibre of asbestos.

The Asbestos Regulations introduced in 2004 tighten up the general safety requirements for anyone doing work which might expose them to asbestos and they impose a new duty to manage asbestos on those considered to be "duty holders".

A duty holder is anyone responsible for maintaining and repairing all or part of a property, or having control of a building. …

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