Demonstration Against Asbestos Deregulation 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



A protest, organized by the Construction Safety Campaign and UCATT, was held outside the Health and Safety Commission's (HSC) London headquarters on January 17, 2006 to coincide with a meeting of HSC Commissioners to discuss controversial proposals made in Consultative Document Proposals for Revised Asbestos Regulations and an Approved Code of Practice (CD 205). HSC Commissioners Hugh Robertson (TUC), Elizabeth Snape (Unison) and Danny Carrigan (Amicus) met with the demonstrators outside the building and agreed that provisions of the consultative document were unacceptable.

 Demonstrators outside the HSC Headquarters with three HSC Commissioners (centre).

Addressing the crowd, union activist Tom Lannon said:

“Today's demonstration is a clarion call to the HSC to say an emphatic no to their plans to weaken the regime regarding the removal of deadly asbestos from buildings… As construction workers we know the dangers and serious implications of asbestos removal, if the proper procedures and regulations are not carried out. The task should be done by licensed removal contractors, who abide by proper regulations.

The HSE are clearly intending very damaging changes to the asbestos regulations by implementing 'sporadic and low intensity exposure,' and short-term exposure, which they say makes it okay for employers to force workers to work with asbestos… Insurance companies and landlords are pushing for asbestos removal regulations to be downgraded, which will make it cheaper to do the operation.”

The new concept of “sporadic and low intensity exposure to asbestos” which is introduced by CD 205 is used to justify the delicensing of some types of hazardous work.1 The use of unlicensed contractors working with untrained operatives lacking sophisticated equipment who are unsupervised by health and safety inspectors is a recipe for disaster. Under the new risk-based approach, work with textured decorative coatings such as Artex, the asbestos content of which can be as high as 5% by weight, will be removed from the regulatory regime. As a result, workers, the public and the environment will be at increasing risk of asbestos contamination.

January 17, 2006


1 See British Asbestos Newsletter, issue 61. Website:



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