HC Deb 15 December 1975 vol 902 cc507-8W
Mr. Madden

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on a recent report of the Health and Safety Executive which reveals that in 1974 there were 149 deaths related to contact or previous exposure to asbestos and that of those 75 were due to asbestosis; and if he is satisfied that present regulations affecting asbestos are adequate and being enforced with sufficient vigour.

Mr. John Fraser

I would draw my hon. Friend's attention to the passage on page 63 of the Report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Factories for 1974 which follows the figures quoted in the Question, to the effect that they reflect conditions in past years when the long-term effects of asbestos dust were not fully appreciated. The latent period for the disease is such that annual figures cannot yet be expected to reflect improved conditions following the introduction of new legislation in 1970.

The Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission informs me that the adequacy of the Asbestos Regulations 1969 and the hygiene standards on which their effectiveness depends are being reviewed by the Health and Safety Executive, but there are no plans to alter them in the immediate future.

Factory inspectors are instructed to visit all factories to which the Asbestos Regulations apply at least once each year and more often where necessary. In the 11 months ending November 1975, 13 successful prosecutions have been taken in respect of contraventions of the Asbestos Regulations 1969. Prohibition and improvement notices have also been issued by inspectors of factories in respect of premises where asbestos was used.