House of Commons Asbestos Inquiry – CWU calls for complete eradication of ‘this toxic fibre’ from all UK buildings

Health & Safety

CWU health, safety & environment department welcomes launch of Department for Work & Pensions Select Committee Inquiry into asbestos management and regulation and union submits document urging ‘planned, phased, controlled removal of all asbestos-containing materials’

DWP Select Committee Members have initiated the probe in response to widespread concerns expressed by trade unions, asbestos campaigners, victims and scientific experts, explains our union’s national health, safety & environment officer Dave Joyce.

“Asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999, but today, 22 years later this toxic fibre still plagues public health, being linked to more than 5,000 deaths each year from diseases including mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis,” he tells CWU News.

“It was used in construction up until the 1980s and vast quantities of asbestos still remain inside UK buildings – an estimated six million tons of this fibrous mineral present in more than 1.5 million buildings, including schools and hospitals.

“And, shockingly,” Dave adds, “UK nurses and teachers are three to five times more likely to develop mesothelioma because of the asbestos in the buildings in which they work.”

The inquiry has been welcomed by the CWU, TUC and all UK trade unions who collectively have adopted a policy of seeking ultimate eradication of asbestos from all buildings through a structured removal programme.

Evidence has pointed to there being widespread non-compliance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and a lack of information on the full extent of how much harm the material is causing. The Health & Safety Executive is looking into how asbestos can be handled more safely and the DWP Select Committee inquiry aims to help make sure monitoring and regulations are as effective and safe as they can possibly be.

Dave Joyce concluded: “Our CWU submission to the DWP Inquiry makes it clear that asbestos is far from being yesterday’s problem and remains a present-day threat to potentially thousands of lives.

“We’re calling on the Government to ensure that UK asbestos management standards are of the highest international standards, strengthen compliance, ensure buildings are safe and initiate a planned, phased, controlled removal of all asbestos-containing materials.”

  • For further information, please see LTB 425/21
  • To view the CWU’s submission to the DWP Inquiry please see here