HSC modifies laws on importation of asbestos

The
Health and Safety Commission’s (HSC) amendments to the current asbestos laws
come into force today, bringing the UK more in line with Europe.

The
changes to the Asbestos (Prohibition) Regulations 1992 will primarily affect
the importation of products containing asbestos into the UK.

The
HSC has modified the existing ban on importing asbestos-containing materials
(ACMs) so that only those where the asbestos has been intentionally added are
now prohibited from being imported. 

This
brings the importation ban into line with the existing prohibition on supply
and use of ACMs, and will ensure the UK meets obligations under European single
market regulations.

Asbestos
is a naturally occurring mineral which can be found in a wide variety of
bedrock, usually only in tiny quantities. Before this amendment, the importation
ban applied to anything containing asbestos, including those minerals that
include a small amount as a naturally occurring impurity.

This
meant the importation of many minerals from areas where tiny amounts of
asbestos are found in the bedrock was technically illegal, irrespective of the
level or risk involved. 

Minerals
for which specific concerns have been expressed over asbestos impurities
include olivine, vermiculite, talc, dolomite, hermatite, iron ore, basalt,
marble, chrome ore, magnetite and wollastonite.

Another
unintended affect of the existing legislation was that the UK was in breach of
the European Union’s single market rules.

www.hse.gov.uk

By Ross Wigham

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