It is estimated that the new duty to manage will save 5,000 lives over the next 50 years. Last year research, conducted by Zurich Risk Services, found that two thirds of companies in the UK had no plans in place to manage the risks associated with asbestos at work.
'Recent evidence from GMB members does little to convince us that the situation has changed much since last summer. Failure to comply could come down to a number of issues including ignorance, neglect or lack of money. Lack of money is a real issue for local authorities, with initial compliance within schools in an average sized local authority costing over half a million. If asbestos needs to be removed this could cost as much as£3m depending on the size and age of the school. The GMB is calling on the Treasury to give money to local authorities to kick start their asbestos management programmes.'
The GMB's new Safety Reps guide, entitled Asbestos - Let's Take Control, puts consultation at the heart of asbestos management programmes and helps Safety Reps check that their employers are taking appropriate action. Kim Sunley added:
'We are giving safety reps the tools to take control and work with their employers to reach compliance. These regulations are about saving the lives of both workers and the public and we will not hesitate to report duty holders who fail to have an asbestos management plan in place within a reasonable time frame.'
* The GMB guide: Asbestos-Let's Take Control costs£5. Telephone 020 8971 4263.