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Health and safety: Asbestos – Approved Codes of Practice – HSE consultation

In response to a major review of health and safety legislation and guidance, HSE has launched a 12 week consultation on new proposals to consolidate and update the current approved codes of practice (ACOP) and guidance that deal with the management and control of asbestos. Dominic Graham, Health & Safety Consultant, looks at the detail.

ACOP - handling and management of asbestos

In response to a major review of health and safety legislation and guidance, HSE has launched a 12 week consultation on new proposals to consolidate and update the current approved codes of practice (ACOP) and guidance that deal with the management and control of asbestos. L127 (The management of asbestos in non-domestic premises) and L143 (Work with materials containing asbestos) will be merged into a single revised ACOP (L143) which will be published by the end of 2013. L127 will be withdrawn but the key points will be included in the new document.

There has been widespread confusion exhibited by duty holders such as building owners and landlords with regard to the changes in asbestos legislation that came into force as a result of the introduction of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. Much of the confusion has been around the introduction of notifiable non-licensed work and changes in some of the materials that need to be notified to HSE. The net result is that some clients have erred on the side of caution and opted to appoint a licensed contractor to do any work involving asbestos; irrespective of the legal requirements whilst others have fallen foul of the law and faced prosecution largely as a result of a lack of understanding. It is proposed that the new revised ACOP will make it clearer what duty holders can do to comply with legal requirements. The key areas of change proposed are:

  • Material supporting Regulations 2, 3, 9 and 22 to be revised to reflect recent changes to the law on notification of certain non-licensed work with asbestos;
  • Arrangements for segregation of asbestos work areas, medical examinations for employees and record keeping requirements;
  • Material supporting Regulation 10 will be reviewed and updated to help employers understand what they need to do to provide information, instruction and training for employees – currently a grey area even in many areas of construction.

There are concerns among duty holders that the revised document will still contain far too much ambiguity, and consequently areas of responsibility will not be clearly defined, leaving organisations and individuals exposed to enforcement action. However HSE has advised that the draft does indeed make it quite clear exactly who needs to do what and when. The format is easier to read than its predecessors as HSE has increased the use of bullet points and diagrams. However, it remains that the true test will be borne out in the education and implementation through 2014.

For further information, please contact Dominic Graham, H&S Consultant, Regulatory team on 0161 603 5109 or at dominic.graham@dwf.co.uk

Details of the consultation

By Dominic Graham

This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.

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