The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are looking to amend the frequency of medical checks from every two years to every three years for workers carrying out licensed work under the Control of Asbestos Regulations SI 2012/632.

If the medical checks were changed to every three years, it would bring them into alignment with the statutory frequency for workers undertaking notifiable work.

This shift comes as part of the HSE's post implementation review (PIR) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations SI 2012/632, which was published in March this year. The majority of the report was happy with the way those Regulations were working, but included some minor recommendations.

The current two yearly medical checks for workers carrying out licensed work goes beyond what is laid down in Directive 2009/148/EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to asbestos at work. For this reason the PIR suggested the HSE should “explore” aligning the two types of medical checks for workers carrying out licensed work and undertaking notifiable work.

The HSE report stated that health and safety impacts of any changes to the Regulations would be considered in consultation with stakeholders.

This seems to have been given the green light with a spokesperson for the HSE stating:

“The HSE is considering options on how to take forward the recommendation to align the frequencies of medical examinations – this will require a change to the law.”

The report also recommended the HSE should provide:

  • greater clarity around the distinction between licensable, non-licensable and notifiable work with asbestos;
  • more information on dutyholders' roles and responsibilities around the duty to manage asbestos in non-domestic premises;
  • practical examples of written plans of work as guidance for dutyholders.

Hugh Robertson, health and safety policy officer at the Trades Union Congress (TUC), argued the changes were not positive:

“Given the very high risk to these workers should they have any exposure, I hardly think that giving a medical examination every two years is an onerous burden on business”.

Discussions on the changes are in the early stages and a timetable has not yet been agreed.

For more information see, the:

  • Directive 2009/148/EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to asbestos at work;
  • Control of Asbestos Regulations SI 2012/632.