Effective from May 1, the measures will benefit both workers and public

THE removal of asbestos could be safer for workers and the public after the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council and Ministry of Manpower (MOM) spelt out enhanced regulations yesterday for work involving the building material, now known to cause serious illness.

The new rules specify that companies must have a proper workplan to deal with asbestos, including a risk assessment, if it is present. They must also notify MOM seven days before starting work that involves asbestos.

All buildings constructed before 1991 must now be assessed for asbestos-containing materials before they are renovated or demolished, and the assessor has to pass a course administered by the Workforce Development Agency.

Asbestos is commonly found in ships and old buildings, as it was a popular heat-insulating material in the 60s and 70s. The import of raw asbestos was banned in 1988, when it was discovered to be hazardous. Brake pads and clutch linings with asbestos were also banned in 1995.