There are still immense challenges presented by the enduring presence across the UK of asbestos containing materials (ACMs) nearly thirty years after use of the most toxic blue and brown types were prohibited and despite the import ban on so-called ‘low-risk’ white asbestos less than 15 years ago.

Workplace conditions and some employer attitudes to the unrestricted use of the mineral fibres half a century ago could be very different than they are today. The work being carried out by many key industry organisations, community groups and individual campaigners has helped to maintain asbestos awareness to the ever-present dangers of exposure and the long term health risks of contracting asbestosis disease and the fatal, incurable mesothelioma cancer.

The Health & Safety Executive, who continue to run their “Asbestos-Hidden Killer” campaigns have stated that some 1.8 million people are still at risk of asbestos exposure and at least 2,000 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year.

Clarify legislation changes and guidance

The first ever live debate to be held in the UK on the continuing crisis posed by the presence, management and disposal of asbestos will be staged as part of a one-day conference at the Manchester Deansgate Hilton on Wednesday 27th November.

The conference, headlined as “Asbestos The Truth”, is now in its fourth year and brings together a variety of industry professionals, including speakers and representatives from construction, land management, policy advisors and researchers.

One of the key aims on the day is to clarify legislation changes and recently updated guidance from the Health and Safety Executive on the management and potential removal of asbestos, along with provision of “best practice advice and shared experiences.”

There can still be considerable confusion

Unfortunately, there can still be considerable confusion within some areas of the construction and property management sectors. Cases where asbestos surveys have been either neglected, inadequately carried out or poorly handled are not infrequently reported, along with a failure to properly manage known asbestos retained in the fabric of buildings, most notably, in schools.

The morning session, entitled, “Situating The Risk”, will feature North Somerset MP, and former Secretary of State for Defence, Dr Liam Fox, who will speak on “ Private and Public Sector Partnerships- “Where can the solutions come from?”

The ongoing concern over the level of asbestos still to be found in a significant number of schools, colleges and nurseries around Britain is to be debated ‘live’ during the afternoon session, “Asbestos In Redevelopment Projects”.

Asbestos in schools

Among the panel will be campaigner, Michael Lees of Asbestos In Schools (AiS) who also spoke at the 2012 conference, critically questioning whether asbestos can ever be effectively managed in schools. Mr Lees has consistently called for the phased removal of asbestos, giving urgent priority to those schools where asbestos is the most damaged.

The conference is primarily directed at refurbishment and fit out companies, business owners, duty holders, H&S managers, building surveyors, asbestos officers and law firms. However, the organisers urge “everybody and anybody” who is in anyway involved with asbestos management and disposal should attend the event.

Click here to find out more about ‘Asbestos The Truth’ Conference at their website.