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Revised Asbestos Regulations approved by HSC

The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) has today informed Ministers that it will recommend approval of revised asbestos regulations. The draft Control of Asbestos Regulations have been the subject of extensive consultation and will strengthen overall worker protection by reducing exposure limits and introducing detailed mandatory training for work with asbestos. They will also simplify the regulatory regime and implement revisions to the EU Asbestos Worker Protection Directive.

The new Regulations introduce a lower single control limit of 0.1 fibres per cm3 of air for work with all types of asbestos and replace three existing sets of Regulations. They also include practical guidelines for the determination of "sporadic and low intensity exposure", as required by the EU Directive. The Commission also approved two Approved Codes of Practice which provide guidance on compliance with the Regulations.

Under the new Regulations, work with textured decorative coatings containing asbestos (TCs) will be removed from the licensing regime as research shows that the levels of exposure to asbestos fibres from such work are low. The Commission had previously considered new research on TCs and, at its meeting on 4 July 2006, evidence of the relative risks of exposure from different asbestos materials.

At its meeting on 25 July the Commission noted that although there were concerns from some stakeholders about the removal of TCs from the licensing regime, it believes that, overall, the proposed Regulations significantly tighten the controls on working with asbestos materials. The Commission is assured that there will be adequate enforcement of the new regime and has asked the Health and Safety Executive to monitor implementation of the Regulations and to bring any concerns about TCs to its attention.

The Commission will shortly be submitting full details of both the proposed Regulations and the accompanying ACoPs to Ministers for approval. Timing is a matter for Ministers and Parliament but HSC aims to have the Regulations in place as soon as possible before the end of the year.

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