HC Deb 09 March 1999 vol 327 cc161-2W
Mr. Frank Cook

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many HSE inspectors by region are(a) qualified and (b) available to police the new regulations and codes of practice relating to the safe removal of asbestos. [74795]

Mr. Meale

[holding answer8 March 1999]: In 1999–2000, HSE's Field Operations Directorate plans to have the full-time equivalent of 530 fully trained inspectors in operational groups; just over 500 are currently in post. Their regional distribution is shown in the following table.

Inspector years
Region Current number of qualified inspectors in operational groups Planned allocation of all operational inspections (including) trainees) for 1999–2000 Planned allocation of qualified operational inspectors for 1999–2000
Scotland 52 63 53
North West 68 79 69
Yorkshire and North East 67 83 72
Midlands 67 86 76
Wales and West 93 107 96
Home Counties 82 93 84
London and South East 74 93 80

All trained inspectors are able to deal with asbestos removal work which they encounter in the course of their work. They are familiar with the legal requirements, the hazard and the risk and can call on other colleagues in Regional Specialist Groups for assistance and support as necessary.

In practice, however, the majority of asbestos removal work is carried out in specific types of premises eg those owned or controlled by local authorities, the health service and construction, particularly demolition sites.

116 operational inspectors are allocated to the construction sector. Construction inspectors develop their knowledge and skills by attending a specific Asbestos Removal training course. Some of these inspectors are given additional training and assessment, including health surveillance, so that they can undertake higher-level inspection work inside asbestos removal enclosures.

Currently, some 50 inspectors are trained to this higher level; most regions have 7, one has 8 in post. This number may fluctuate depending on staff movement.