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The Sunday Telegraph, 'Fatal cracks appear in asbestos scam as HSE shifts its ground' and 'Booker wins asbestos battle' - Johnathan Rees, HSE's Deputy Chief Executive responds

Richard Ellis
The Editor
The Sunday Telegraph
1 Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London
E14 5DT

15 December 2005

Dear Sir

The articles in the Sunday Telegraph by Christopher Booker entitled "Fatal cracks appear in asbestos scam as HSE shifts its ground" and "Booker wins asbestos battle" (11 December) highlighted aspects of the current Health and Safety Commission consultation on changes to the asbestos regulations.

While we welcome the emphasis in the articles on evidence-based policy making, I need to correct a comment about our views. While risks from white asbestos may be significantly lower than the risks from blue or brown, HSE does not agree that white asbestos poses no medical risk.

The fact is that work with materials containing asbestos can pose a risk to people's health. For work with the very highest risk materials, HSE requires contractors to be licensed. But for all work with asbestos - whether or not it has to be done under licence - the regulations require it to be properly assessed and carried out by trained workers with the appropriate controls.

Yours faithfully

Jonathan Rees
Deputy Chief Executive
Health and Safety Executive
Rose Court
2 Southwark Bridge
London SE 9HS

Updated 2013-01-23