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HSE to crackdown on asbestos breaches in February blitz

The Health and Safety Executive will conduct a blitz on firms in Kent next month to ensure they are conforming to asbestos regulations.

The regulator – which will undertake the campaign jointly with the local authorities – said it would send letters to 1,300 premises in the county and, depending on the responses, would visit those it thought may require an inspection. A spokeswoman said it was unknown yet exactly how many sites may have to be visited.

It said: "Asbestos-related diseases are still the largest occupational killers in the UK with around 4,000 deaths per year (15 times the fatal accident rate). These figures are continuing to rise and about 25 per cent of those dying from asbestos-related disease have worked in the building, maintenance and repair trades at some time during their working lives."

HSE principal inspector in Kent Mike Walters said: "The challenge for HSE and local authorities is to raise awareness among those trades most at risk - such as plumbers, joiners, electricians and similar and promote the proper use of sensible precautions to stem these deaths and suffering."

The HSE is also stepping up its campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of silica dust.

Dr Robert Ellis – from the regulator's chemicals risk management unit – said despite a marked increase in awareness of silicosis across big business, he found smaller firms were often still uninformed.

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