22 February 2011
The UK is failing fully to adhere to European Law in protecting workers exposed to asbestos. UK authorities currently exempt employers from applying some maintenance and repair activities detailed in the ‘Asbestos Directive’ (2009/148/EC) for activities that involve only sporadic and low intensity exposure to asbestos. Under the UK exemption there is no requirement to:
- Notify asbestos works to the responsible national authority;
- Ensure a health assessment is made of new workers exposed to asbestos and a renewed assessment every three years, for as long as exposure continues; and
- Keep a register of the workers who are, or may be, exposed to asbestos at work.
The European Commission, which is responsible for the day to day management of the application of European laws and policies has requested that the UK take steps within two months to adhere to the ‘Asbestos Directive’ to protect workers from asbestos related risks. If the UK fails to comply, the Commission may decide to refer the UK to the European Court of Justice.
Breaches of the Asbestos Directive leave UK workers vulnerable to unmonitored exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos is a very dangerous agent and was used extensively in buildings in the 1960 and 1070’s including offices, schools and some houses. The inhalation of asbestos fibres can cause serious diseases that grievously reduce life expectancy. Even low intensity and sporadic exposure can have a devastating effect on an individual’s health. Therefore it is imperative that there are tight measures in place to control and record exposure to asbestos. Exposure to asbestos fibre can also lead to the development of the fatal lung cancer mesothelioma.
Leigh Day’s asbestos expertise
Specialist asbestos lawyers in the industrial diseases team at Leigh Day & Co have represented numerous workers who have contracted asbestos related diseases as a result of their low level asbestos exposure.
Frequently, our clients’ report poor health and safety standards in the 1960’s and 1970’s which resulted in their exposure. It is a damming indictment of the UK government to ignore modern legislation designed improve safety standards and to protect our workers from potentially fatal hazards.
If you would like to speak to a lawyer about a possible claim for compensation please contact Daniel Easton, Vijay Ganapathy or Zahra Nanji on 020 7650 1200 for a free initial consultation.
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