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Asbestos in Schools

Parliamentary Questions on

Asbestos containing WW2 Gas Masks sale and postage - and Inspection of Schools' asbestos management standards

 


Parliamentary Written answer about the sale of Gas masks: Gas Masks 7 July 2014 : Column 105W

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to the answer of 25 November 2013, Official Report, column 126W, on gas masks, what progress he has made on preventing the continued on-line sale of Second World War gas masks containing asbestos. [203585]

Mike Penning: HSE has concluded its sampling exercise with online sellers. A number of the different types of gas mask available were analysed and most found to contain asbestos. The placing on the market, supply and transport of almost all items containing asbestos, including gas masks, is prohibited by the EU Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (EU1907/2006) (REACH).
HSE and Trading Standards are working with the platform, which hosted the purchases of the gas masks involved in the study, on a policy to prohibit the sale of items that fall under REACH.
HSE will continue work on a case by case basis with Local Authority Trading Standards, who are responsible for enforcement relating to sale to consumers, to take robust action against those who break the law on asbestos and unnecessarily put themselves and others at risk.
  
Comment.

  • The answer to preventing on-lines sale is similar to answers given over the last nine months and yet the sale and postage continues unabated. For instance there is no warning on the E-Bay web-site although HSE were warned about the sale of gas masks on E-Bay in 2002. HSE and Trading Standards appear unable to stop the illegal sale of masks they identify as dangerous.
  • The Transport Minister’s answer appears to be at odds with the answer from the Minister with responsibility for enforcing the EU REACH regulations. The Transport Minister appears to condone the postage of gas masks containing asbestos although one of his colleagues appears to consider it illegal.
  • The advertisments are at this link on ebay and include the most dangerous type

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Parliamentary Written answer about the postage of Gas masks:   7 July 2014 : Column 161W   Gas Masks

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take steps to prevent the postage by retailers of Second World War gas masks containing asbestos. [203584]

Stephen Hammond: The Royal Mail is responsible for the acceptance or otherwise of items to be carried by post and they have set out what they will accept, or not, in their publically available guide "Prohibitions and restrictions in the domestic and international post" published in July 2013. These rules ensure that specified low risk items can be transported safely through the UK postal network.
It clearly states that under certain conditions it is acceptable for samples of asbestos to be carried to UK destinations. Royal Mail will not, however, accept asbestos under any circumstances for international carriage.
will not be taking any additional steps to prevent the postage by retailers of Second World War gas masks containing asbestos.

Comment: The Transport Minister’s answer appears to be at odds with the answer from the Minister with responsibility for enforcing the EU REACH regulations. The Transport Minister appears to condone the postage of gas masks containing asbestos although one of his colleagues appears to consider it illegal.

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Parliamentary Written answer about Inspections of schools to assess the standards of asbestos management

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps he is taking to monitor the standards of asbestos management in schools (a) under and (b) outside of local authority control. [203583]

Mike Penning: The Health and Safety Executive continues to be a member of the Asbestos in Schools Steering Group which aim to promote the effective management of asbestos in both local authority and non-local authority controlled schools. The steering group has representatives from the joint Union Asbestos Committee, education trade unions, local authorities and independent schools.
In June 2014, HSE published the results of its latest inspection survey into the management of asbestos in schools covering those outside local authority control. This survey showed improved levels of awareness and a decrease in the level of enforcement action required in comparison with a survey of the same sector in 2010-11. HSE also completed a similar inspection exercise in 2010 on local authority controlled schools.

Comment: The question was asked as it is unclear whether HSE will undertake any more proactive inspections since they completed a round of inspections of schools outside local authority control last December. The Minister has avoided answering the question.  A follow up question has been tabled to establish what the situation actually is.