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.
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