Non-domestic building removal

Report into non-domestic building asbestos removal

In 2019, asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis caused over 5,000 deaths in the UK. This means that even though its negative health effects are understood, and its use has been banned for several decades, asbestos is still the main cause of work-related fatalities.

In April 2022, the UK Government's Work and Pensions Committee released a report that outlines how to tackle the ongoing risk that asbestos still poses. In this article, we will look at some of the findings of this report, and what they may mean for those who regularly work with asbestos.

If you or your organisation are looking for asbestos training, consider our great value online asbestos awareness course. It is IATP-approved, and is ideal for those that work around asbestos material, but not directly with it.

What are the findings of the report?

One of the main things that the report highlights is that, while asbestos exposure will not reach the levels seen during the 20th century, it is still a major issue that affects a significant number of workers each year. It also states that asbestos exposure is likely to increase as buildings are adapted to meet net zero commitments, and more asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) are disturbed as a result.

For this reason, the report recommends that the government and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) update their current asbestos removal plan with a clear strategy and time frame. Specifically, it suggests that all asbestos should be removed from all non-domestic/residential buildings within 40 years, and that any plan to do so should target high-risk forms of asbestos and settings first, such as schools.

It is important to note that this only affects non-domestic properties which include all industrial, commercial or public buildings, such as factories, warehouses, schools, hospitals, offices and shops. It also includes the common areas of certain domestic properties, such as corridors, lifts, staircases, gardens and garages. For more information on what is considered to be a non-domestic property, click here to view the HSE's guidance on this.

Alongside this, the report criticises the HSE's lack of research into the safe removal and disposal of asbestos (and the costs and benefits associated with doing so) as well as the reduced inspection and enforcement action that it appears to have taken, even though there is no evidence to suggest that compliance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 has improved.

As well as the previous suggestions, this report also makes it clear that the HSE should increase its research into asbestos disposal and removal, and increase its enforcement action to ensure compliance with asbestos legislation. This will likely require additional government funding, which the report advocates for.

For more information on this report, click here to view it in full. You can also click here to view the inquiry's page on the UK Parliament website, which will be updated when any new documents, events or news regarding this report are published.

What might this report mean?

While this report is still awaiting a government response, it may lead to an increase in the number of people who will be working with asbestos in the coming decades, including those carrying out licensable asbestos work. This, in turn, will prompt an increase in the asbestos training requirements of a wide range of organisations.

At Commodious, we offer an IATP-approved online Asbestos Awareness training course that is ideal for those who work around, but not directly with, asbestos at work. To find out more about this course, use the link below: