Unite, the UK’s largest union, has warned that government proposals to water down vital life-saving asbestos regulations are risking the health of asbestos workers.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has consulted on proposals to reduce the requirement that workers involved in potentially dangerous licensed asbestos work will only be required to have a medical assessment every three years, rather than the existing requirement to have an assessment every two years.
Under the current rules workers undertaking potentially dangerous licensed asbestos work are required to have a medical examination every two years and those undertaking Notifiable Non-Licensed Work (NNLW) are required to have an examination every three years.
Rather than ensure that all asbestos workers have a health assessment every two years it is proposed to water down the frequency of all assessments.
The consultation period lasted for just four weeks, which was insufficient time for the union to consult the workers directly affected by the proposed changes.
Unite’s health and safety advisor Susan Murray said: “Workers who are regularly coming into contact with potentially lethal asbestos are having their long-term health jeopardised because of the government’s obsession with cutting so-called red tape.
“If the government was at all interested in ensuring the safety and health of all workers required to work with asbestos it would be requiring that all such workers had medical examinations at least every two years.
“The fact that the consultation period was so short demonstrates that these changes are in effect a fait accompli. We trust that this is not a sham consultation and that our responses and concerns will be properly addressed.”
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.