Unite backs MPs’ call for asbestos eradication law

Unite backs MPs’ call for asbestos eradication law

16 October 2015

Britain’s largest union, Unite, backed calls from MPs today (Friday 16 October) for an asbestos eradication law which would lead to the removal of the deadly substance from buildings by 2035.

Every year 5,000 people die as a result of asbestos exposure, according to a report published by the all-party parliamentary group on occupational safety and health. The report published today details the case for a new law on asbestos and outlines a timetable for its eradication.

In the report, The asbestos crisis: why Britain needs a new law, the parliamentary group calls for: 

• All commercial, public, and rented domestic premises built or refurbished before 2000 to have conducted and registered an asbestos survey with the Health and Safety Executive by 2022.
Where asbestos is identified, all refurbishment, repair or remedial work done in the vicinity of the asbestos containing material should include its removal. 
If no such work takes place or is planned for the foreseeable future then the duty holder must develop and implement a plan for the removal of all asbestos by 2035. In the case of public buildings and educational establishments, such as schools, this should be done no later than 2028.
The HSE, local authorities and other enforcing agencies to develop a programme of workplace inspections to verify that all asbestos containing material identified is properly marked and managed, and that asbestos eradication plans are in place. 
Before any house sale is completed, a survey should be done which includes a survey of the presence of asbestos. Any asbestos containing material should be labelled. Information on the presence of asbestos should be given to any contractor working on the house.

Commenting Unite national officer John Allott said: “Five thousand people die prematurely every year as a result of asbestos exposure. This is around three times the number of deaths caused by road traffic accidents, highlighting that asbestos is still with us and as dangerous as ever.

“With asbestos containing materials in around half a million non-domestic premises and in an estimated million domestic properties it is no just people working in maintenance, refurbishment or demolition who are on the sharp end of exposure to asbestos, but people doing DIY on their homes. 

“The only way we will ensure future generations don’t have to experience the same deadly epidemic of asbestos related diseases that we suffer today is to eradicate it from every workplace in Britain.”


For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869. 

Notes to editors:

  • 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.