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Asbestos coatings are safe, say HSE experts

NEWS - Proposal for textured coatings removal to be exempted from Government regulations

PLANS to allow non-registered contractors to remove decorative textured coatings containing asbestos moved a step closer this week with publication of research into the material.

The Health and Safety Executive is currently consulting on proposals to tighten controls reducing its lower single control limit to 0.1 fibres per cu cm for work with all types of asbestos.

But the plans have outraged unions because they would take textured coatings such as Artex out of the scope of asbestos licensing regulations.

The HSE said its latest research showed the level of asbestos fibres in the air from work with textured coatings will not exceed the proposed control limit.

The HSE's head of asbestos policy Kevin Walkin said: 'The research shows that the risk from asbestos-containing textured coatings is comparable to the risks from work with asbestos cement, which does not require a licence.' 'We're not saying this work is norisk ? it still needs to be carried out by trained workers using appropriate controls.' Ucatt general secretary Alan Ritchie said: 'If there are no licensing controls for the removal of textured decorative coatings then these exposures are likely to increase, condemning another generation of workers to an early death and ill health from asbestos.' 'The HSE needs to recognise the reality that for very many building and maintenance workers, their employers will not put in place the appropriate controls.

'Deregulating an activity that has previously been licensed will send out the wrong message about the dangers of asbestos to workers and the occupants of buildings, who will be at risk from these deadly fibres.' Final recommendations will be presented to the Health and Safety Commission in May, with a provisional date of October 1 to introduce the revised asbestos regulations.