Last reviewed 9 November 2020

Asbestos professional and trade bodies have issued an urgent reminder that the cancer-causing substance still needs careful management during the pandemic.

The joint statement released by the British Occupational Hygiene Society and asbestos trade bodies ACAD and ARCA was sent out to anyone who has responsibility for asbestos.

The statement reminds all duty holders that asbestos must continue to be managed through the latest lockdown.

The reminder coincides with reports of increasing confusion about the permitted activity in relation to asbestos during the latest lockdown in England and restrictions across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

However, the Chartered Society for Worker Health Protection emphasised that the legal duties under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 remain fully in force.

These require all duty holders to manage asbestos risks, such that exposure to asbestos is either prevented or reduced to as low as is reasonably practicable.

The Society says the Health and Safety Executive remains active in seeking regulatory compliance during lockdown and all concerned must continue to adhere to the requirements of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and other health and safety legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, in order to continue to minimise all exposure to asbestos fibre from any source.

Government guidance also makes it clear that it is lawful to enter premises (including other people’s homes) in order to deliver services and do work.

The asbestos bodies have underlined that where sites are totally shut, annual re-inspections can be postponed, but it is essential these are undertaken prior to employees returning to site to guard against deterioration of asbestos containing materials.

Jonathan Grant, Deputy Registrar of BOHS’s Faculty of Asbestos Analysis and Management (FAAM) said, “The hazards of asbestos have not gone away”.