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Enhanced regulations for work involving asbestos to be introduced

The Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council and the Ministry of Manpower have announced enhanced regulations for work involving asbestos, a substance that could potentially cause lung cancer.

Many older buildings, especially those built before 1990, may have asbestos-containing materials. These include corrugated roofs, ceiling boards and partition walls.

The new WSH (Asbestos) Regulations will replace the existing Factories (Asbestos) Regulations and take effect from May 1.

The new regulations come after three rounds of public consultations conducted last year.

Under the new regulations, an expert must be appointed to ascertain if asbestos-containing materials are present before starting demolition or renovation works on buildings built before 1 January 1991.

If asbestos is present, it must be removed before demolition can commence. The removal can only be carried out by an approved asbestos removal contractor, under proper supervision.

“This will ensure that workers carry out these work activities under proper management and protection. It will also prevent the release of asbestos fibres into the air which can affect the public,” said Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower Dr Amy Khor.

To help the industry comply with the regulations, a new set of WSH guidelines on the management and removal of asbestos has been developed to guide contractors and building owners on the proper management of asbestos-containing materials.

In addition, a video has been produced with the aim of educating stakeholders on the health effects of asbestos exposure. The video will illustrate examples of where asbestos can be found and measures to apply in the management and removal process.

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