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Asbestos is one of the few materials which has a specific set of regulations in Jersey, Guernsey and the UK, that govern its identification, management and removal.
The reason for such stringent regulation is because when asbestos containing materials are damaged or disturbed, asbestos fibres may be released into the air, which if inhaled by humans may cause serious and often fatal diseases.
Asbestos related diseases kill more people than any other single work-related illness. Statistics produced by the UK Health & safety Executive show that there are approximately 4,500 deaths per year in the UK as a result of occupationally-acquired asbestos related diseases. (Date 2013)
It is acknowledged that asbestos containing materials were used extensively in the construction of buildings and structures in Jersey & Guernsey during the past century.
In the 1960s and 1970s annual imports of asbestos into the UK peaked at over 150,000 tonnes per year.
The use of any new materials containing blue and brown asbestos were prohibited in the UK in 1985 and white asbestos in 1999 and the use of all asbestos containing materials was banned in 2000.
It is therefore very important that any person who carries out work where they may come into contact with asbestos, or who intentionally works with the material, follows the legal requirements placed upon them in order to ensure that they and persons who may be affected by the way they work , are not exposed to an unacceptable risk of premature death or illness due to exposure to asbestos fibres.
The types of work that release fibres include drilling holes with power tools, sawing or sanding materials.
Simply working near an asbestos containing material might result in disturbance, particularly if it is in poor condition.
In Jersey, it is the Health & safety at Work Inspectorate that is responsible for the oversight and enforcement of asbestos legislation, which falls under the Health & safety at Work (Jersey) Law 1989.