Get a quote

Asbestos and the Retained EU Law (REUL) Bill

There have been a lot of recent headlines about the government’s decision to “push back” on the Retained EU Law (REUL) Bill, which was introduced with the intention of removing all EU legislation from the UK by the end of 2023.  Whilst it is unclear which bills will no longer be considered for abolition, let’s hope the Health and Safety at Work Bill is one of them, as this includes legislation about asbestos.

I recently joined a call organised by Res Publica last week to discuss the implications for the bills that REUL could revoke.  It was fascinating to hear an informed and detailed analysis of the bill and its implications rather than reading sensationalist news reports.  I hope that the politicians responsible for introducing REUL were not aware of its potential consequences, as it would be frightening to believe an elected politician in the UK could think the legislation in its current form was a sensible approach.

An excellent group of speakers on the call included Sir Stephen Timms, who is closely involved in lobbying for tighter legislation regarding introducing compulsory registers of asbestos and setting a deadline for removing all asbestos.  Kevin Brampton of BOHS gave an excellent presentation about the consequences of repealing this legislation, and the consistently outstanding Yvonne Waterman gave some broader European context.

I hadn’t understood that any bill that falls under REUL cannot be replaced by legislation that places a higher cost or burden on businesses than the repealed legislation.  A presumably unintended consequence is that this does not allow for inflation, so those who wished to, over time, could challenge any legislation that cost more to comply with than when the “European” bill was repealed at the end of 2023.

 In the case of asbestos, that would mean that inevitably associated costs of removal and disposal would have risen in, say ten years and could then be contested as illegal.  Apparently there is no obvious solution to this problem other than stopping the legislation.

Far too many people still die because of asbestos, and there are some sensible ways in which current legislation should be tightened for the benefit of many.  Many deaths come from and will continue to happen because people do not realise they are exposed to the dangers of asbestos – hence the need for a comprehensive, up-to-date and easily accessible asbestos register.

Res Publica is promoting “Airtight on Asbestos” to influence the way that asbestos is managed.  We wholeheartedly support this campaign and encourage others to do so.

We use cookies to help provide you with the best possible online experience.
By using this site, you agree that we may store and access cookies on your device. Find out about our cookies.