UK asbestos law not up to Euro standard

The UK version of a European Union-wide law on asbestos safety is illegally lax and must be amended, the government has been told last week.

The TUC, which had warned against the dilution of essential safety measures, said the European Commission (EC) ruling nails the myth the UK ‘gold-plates’ Euro laws.

Last week’s ‘reasoned opinion’ from the EC, in response to a complaint about inadequacies in the UK law, gives the government two months to amend the law or face possible action at the EU’s Court of Justice. It says the UK misinterpreted requirements on ‘sporadic and low intensity exposure to asbestos’ to justify the exclusion of considerable amounts of asbestos work from asbestos licensing, health assessments and exposure recording requirements.

The EC announcement, warning of court action if the government fails to act, notes: ‘The UK legislation currently focuses on the measurement of exposure to asbestos and not enough on the how the material will be affected by the work itself, while the directive deals with both exposure and the material.’ 

The problem of UK workers’ exposure to asbestos will be with us for a very long time and we are heartened to note that the EC has expressed its dissatisfaction with the UK’s recent interpretation of the regulations. It is a sorry state of affairs indeed when workers in this country have to rely on external interventions to secure adequate occupational health safety standards.

Bonnar & Company specialises in workplace accidents and illnesses and we would be happy to discuss the circumstances of your claim free of charge and without obligation.

You can contact us on freephone: 0800 163 978  

US health and safety laws are good for business

Workplace health and safety regulations not only save lives, they benefit the economy, the USA’s top safety official said yesterday.

In stark contrast to the UK’s government’s stance on health and safety in the workplace, David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), said:

‘Despite concerns about the effect of regulation on American business, there is clear evidence that OSHA’s commonsense regulations have made working conditions in this country today far safer than 40 years ago when the agency was created, while at the same time protecting American jobs.

The truth is that OSHA standards don’t kill jobs. They stop jobs from killing workers. OSHA standards don’t just prevent worker injuries and illnesses. They also drive technological innovation, making industries more competitive.’

Speaking ahead of a Republican-driven formal government committee hearing ‘Investigating OSHA’s regulatory agenda and its impact on job creation’, Dr Michaels said: ‘Many OSHA standards cost little and easily can be adopted by employers with nominal effect on the bottom line. OSHA, by law and by practice, always looks at both the overall cost of compliance with a proposed regulation and at the expected benefits. The evidence shows that OSHA generally overestimates the cost of its standards.

Congress’ Office of Technology Assessment, comparing the predicted and actual costs of eight OSHA regulations, found that in almost all cases ‘industries that were most affected achieved compliance straightforwardly, and largely avoided the destructive economic effects’ that they feared.’

He concluded ‘OSHA’s job isn’t over. More than 3 million workers in America are injured every year. Every day 12 workers die on the job. OSHA’s commonsense regulations are helping to drive these numbers down and, at the same time, helping American businesses modernise and compete in the global economy.’

At a time workplace safety campaigners are on the back foot in the UK, we implore the government to take heed of the US example and in its own words, apply ‘commonsense to common safety’, as it purported to do last year when Lord Young was comissioned to review health and safety regulations. 

Unfortunately, when the noble Lord took careful aim at the so-called ‘compensation culture’ and hit the wrong target, the government rushed to congratulate him (as he had produced the justification for draconian budget cuts) and quickly began the systematic dismantling of the regulations that protect workers’ lives and help industry become more – not less – competitive.

Bonnar & Company is very concerned about the dilution of health and safety legislation in the UK and we lend our voice to those campaigning on behalf of worker safety.

Headway raffle raises funds for brain injured people in Scotland

The following news release was posted today by Headway UK.

A charity that helps people rebuild their lives following brain injury has received a welcome boost from a firm of personal injury solicitors after the company donated a new car to the charity’s raffle.

Bonnar & Company Solicitors, which has offices across Scotland, has helped Headway, the brain injury association, celebrate its most successful annual raffle to date, with more than £18,000 raised.

The UK-wide charity, which has 13 groups and branches in Scotland alone, works to improve life after brain injury. Gaille McCann from Headway said the money would make a huge difference to the lives of people affected by brain injury.

“Brain injury is something that can happen to anyone at any time,” said Gaille. “We all think ‘it will never happen to me’ but the truth is it affects thousands of people every year. Indeed, every year in Scotland alone it is estimated that around 16,500 adults sustain a brain injury. The money raised by the raffle provides vital funding to help us continue our vital work and we’re very grateful to Bonnar & Company for donating such an incredible prize.”

The car, a Vauxhall Corsa 1.2l SXi, was won by Rotherham man Ian Ralph, who has supported the charity since it helped him cope when his wife sustained a brain injury.


Ian Ralph from Rotherham receives the keys to his brand new Vauxhall Corsa from Andy Thorogood, Bonnar & Company’s Practice Development Manager and Gaille McCann from Headway.

“You never expect to win these things when you enter,” said Ian. “I bought the tickets as a way of making a donation to Headway, which was a tremendous support to me when my wife Alison suffered a brain haemorrhage in June 2006.”

“The haemorrhage left Alison with a severe brain injury and she couldn’t communicate. It was a very difficult time for me and the whole family; not only was my wife desperately ill, but also I was trying to care for our two children, who were 12 and eight at the time, and make sense of all the forms that needed filling in.”

“It was while Alison was being cared for in a local hospice that someone from Headway first came to see me to offer emotional and practical support. They helped me with all the legal issues but more importantly understood what I was going through.”

“Sadly Alison passed away just four months after the haemorrhage but I will always be grateful for Headway’s support.”

Partner, Veronica McManus said, “Ian and his family have obviously been through a very tough time and they deserve some good news. We were delighted to present him with the car and of course help raise valuable funds for Headway.”


About Headway

Headway – the UK’s leading brain injury charity – provides support, services and information to brain injury survivors, their families and carers, as well as to professionals in the health and legal fields. It has more than 100 groups and branches throughout the UK.

For more information on Headway or about brain injury, visit


Key facts

It is estimated that across the UK there are well over 500,000 people of working age living with permanent disabilities as a result of head injury.

Each year, around 1.4 million people attend hospital A&E in the UK following head injury.

Approximately half of deaths in people under 40 are due to head injury.

Head injury accounts for about 30 per cent of traumatic deaths and a higher proportion of long-term disability.

Men are two or three times more likely to have a brain injury than women. This increases to five times more likely in the 15-29 age range.

The major causes of head injury are road traffic accidents, falls and accidents at home or at work.