Lucion features in SHP online: Impact of Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 estimated at £28.8 billion

13th June 2017


Chris Parr, Lucion Services Compliance Director

As featured in SHP Online, recent report from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has highlighted the positive impact of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR2012).

Chris Parr, compliance director of Lucion Services, summarises the Government report on the impact and influence of workplace asbestos control regulations.

The Post Implementation Review of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, reinforces the extent to which the regulations have achieved their initial objectives and assesses the costs and benefits that might be attributed to them.

In this respect the review provides an interesting evaluation of how the legislation has been implemented and an indication of how the regulations are working.

Meeting objectives

Overall the report demonstrates how CAR2012 has met its objectives and has helped to achieve a high level of compliance. Few would argue with this assessment, but what is most interesting is the report’s cost benefit analysis and an economic evaluation of the measures designed to prevent exposure to asbestos fibres in the workplace.

Analysis carried out by HSE epidemiologists estimates that the fall in exposure to asbestos between 1980 (the rough date of introduction of control measures) and 2015 will lead to 25,700 fewer deaths from mesothelioma and lung cancer in the 100 years between 2001 and 2100.

By applying HSE estimates of the costs to society of work-related cancer, the report calculates that by preventing this number of cancer cases, the present value of the benefits of the regulations to society is £20.9 billion. In addition, taking into account the time lag and legacy health effects associated with asbestos diseases, when this scenario is rolled forward to cover the 2016 — 2115 period, the benefit value rises to £28.8 billion.

Although the report points out that not all of these prevented deaths can be attributed to the regulations, the figures nevertheless provide a clear indication of the scale of the considerable impact the regulations have had in successfully controlling workplace exposures.

Moreover this positive influence is particularly emphasised when the benefits are measured in relation to the compliance costs for business, which the reports puts at hundreds of millions of pounds each year or as high single billions over the 100 year, 2016 — 2115 period.

The research, analysis and evidence discussed in the review therefore provides the unequivocal conclusion that CAR2012 has met its objectives and has helped to achieve improving level of compliance.

Interestingly this progress may have also been assisted by an increasing number of cases being prosecuted by the HSE, local authorities and COPFS as well as Government moves to increase many of the maximum fines available to the lower courts, as well as making imprisonment for offenders more widely available.

No major amendments

As a result of these overall findings, the report recommends that no major amendments are required to the provisions of CAR2012 and that the regulations successfully strengthen the protection given to those who might otherwise be exposed to fibres from asbestos containing materials.

However, it does also highlight some areas where relatively minor improvements might be introduced including exploring the possibility of changing the frequency of medical examinations for those undertaking licensed asbestos work, from every two years to every three years.

In addition, it is suggested that greater clarity around the distinction between licensable, non-licensable and notifiable work with asbestos would be an advantage, as would better information on the responsibilities of duty holders in non-domestic premises and the provision of practical examples of written work plans.

Overall, whilst these improvements would undoubtedly provide some welcome clarifications going forward, the indisputable outcome of the review is that CAR 2012 continues to provide a robust and effective regulatory framework that is effectively protecting workers from the risks associated with exposure to asbestos fibres.

Lucion Services provides a range of occupational safety, risk management, consultancy and training services in the field of asbestos and hazardous materials. Continuous growth since its formation in 2002 has enabled the Gateshead-headquartered group to build a 295-strong workforce around the country, operating from 12 regional offices.

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