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October 4, 2010

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Businesses in Northern Ireland warned about asbestos management risks

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) has launched a new campaign to raise awareness about managing the risks associated with asbestos.

The HSENI has partnered with Northern Ireland’s 26 District Councils to remind dutyholders of their legal obligation to manage the risks from asbestos. As part of the campaign nearly 60,000 businesses have been sent an information pack, which includes an eight-step guide to help manage the risks from asbestos. The guide also stresses the importance of maintaining an up-to-date asbestos register for your building.

In the last four years there have been over 300 asbestos-related deaths in Northern Ireland. Over the coming months the HSENI will be working in conjunction with the District Councils to carry out inspections of non-domestic premises across the country, to check the level of compliance with the asbestos regulations.

HSENI chairman, Professor Peter McKie, said: “Asbestos remains the most serious occupational health issue in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK due to its widespread use. It may be present in any building built before the year 2000, so it is essential that those with duties under health and safety law are aware of the risk it poses and their responsibilities in managing it.

“HSENI’s campaign sets out to make sure that this message is clearly and easily understood, both for those who own their own commercial premises and those who rent them from others”.

Patricia Allen, from the District Councils Environmental Health Service added: “While we are jointly highlighting the very real dangers posed by asbestos if not managed properly, this campaign is equally about supporting dutyholders to gain a better understanding of their buildings and their responsibilities. It’s important dutyholders feel assured that they are taking the necessary steps to protect both themselves and others from exposure to asbestos fibres”.

For more information on the campaign visit www.hseni.gov.uk/dutytomanage or call the HSENI’s helpline number 0800 0320 121.

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