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Fears over relaxation of Asbestos regs

Workers could face increased risk of asbestos-related illness if proposed rule changes set out in a Government consultation document become law, companies and trade unions warned today.
Unlicensed contractors will be able to carry out certain types of asbestos removal where exposure to asbestos is deemed to be only 'sporadic and low intensity'.

A material called Artex, which is a textured coatings containing asbestos, will be taken off the list of materials that only licensed contractors can remove.

Research carried out for the Health and Safety Executive showed that asbestos exposure from the material was lower than originally thought.

But campaigners warned that any contractor will be able to do the work, irrespective of adequate training or supervision.

The Asbestos Removal Contractors Association claimed that the main concern appeared to be cost cutting rather than protecting workers.

Stephen Sadley, general manager of ARCA said: 'We agree with most of what the consultation document contains but we disagree with proposals to allow anyone to remove Artex. We accept it is low risk but it is not without risk. Unlicensed contractors won't have the expertise, knowledge or insurance to do the job properly. The HSE have done some tests on Artex removal but that was carried out by licensed contractors.'

The HSC is looking to simplify the three sets of current asbestos regulations - on controls, licensing and prohibitions - into one.

Consultation on the changes were announced by the HSE. A 12 week consultation period will end in January.

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