Construction workers have expressed concern following Steve Baker’s recent appointment as Brexit Minister. Unease comes in response to the Minister’s historic comments on asbestos controls and regulations. The comments have left some wondering – will Mr Baker use his new role to encourage the weakening of UK asbestos laws?

Mr Baker has appeared to support the weakening of asbestos laws in the past:

In the House of Commons in 2010, Steve Baker addressed a series of parliamentary questions regarding asbestos to the Secretary of State. He asked the Secretary:

  • “If he will bring forward proposals to amend the provisions of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 to distinguish the white form of asbestos and the blue and brown forms of that substance.”
  • “Will [he] commission an inquiry into the appropriateness of the health and safety precautions in force in respect of asbestos cement.”
  • “If he will bring forward proposals to amend existing regulations governing the safe use of asbestos cement in line with the evidence cited in the Health and Safety Commission Paper HSC/06/055.”

In 2015, the Minister made further worrying comments in a report by the Conservative Rural Affairs Group. This related to the use of asbestos on farms. He suggested that asbestos cement sheets should be re-used rather than have the asbestos products removed.

These questions, and presumably Mr Baker’s stance on asbestos, have come into focus due to his new role in Brexit. The MP will be directly assisting Britain’s exit from the EU and, with it, the swathes of EU regulation and red tape.

Currently, no suggestions have been made with respect to any specific asbestos legislation. However, Unite have criticised Mr Baker for apparently holding pro-asbestos views. They also argue that other Conservative MPs support the weakening of asbestos regulations.

Why are people so concerned about asbestos?

It is understandable that any change in the law regarding the use, control and removal of asbestos would cause huge concern. Exposure to asbestos can cause very serious illnesses. Unfortunately, thousands of people continue to have their lives cut short due to asbestos-related cancer, in particular, mesothelioma.

A Health and Safety Executive report indicates that over 2,500 people died because of mesothelioma in 2014 alone. Mesothelioma is a cancer whereby a tumour develops on the lining of a patient’s lung or stomach. Although there are also rarer forms of mesothelioma which affect other parts of the body, for example, testicular mesothelioma.

Sadly, thousands more people also have other diseases caused by their asbestos exposure. These diseases include:

  • Asbestos-related pleural thickening
  • Lung cancer (adenocarcinoma)

At Asbestos Justice, we are fearful of opinions that threaten a backwards step in relation to the protection of people from asbestos exposure. Therefore, we strive to raise these concerns and continue to hold to account people responsible for negligent exposure.

How can we help?

If you require assistance in pursuing an asbestos compensation claim for mesothelioma or other asbestos disease then please contact us today. You can call us on our Freephone number 0800 038 6767. Alternatively, head over to the ‘Contact Us’ page, complete the form and we will be in touch.

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