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2018 - Trade Union Guide on Using Asbestos Registries

Brief description of the initiative
Some countries in the European Union (EU) already keep registries for harmful substances at various administrative levels, and there are providers who offer expert services covering the assessment and laboratory analysis of such substances in buildings. However, companies and trade union representatives are often unaware of these instruments and do not know where to find this information and how to access it, particularly when providing services in another Member State.

The research involved in the project entailed a survey of public authorities to gain an overview of existing identification and registration models in EU Member States. This information was brought together in a guide featuring country fact sheets that supply relevant information aiming to help trade union representatives take the appropriate steps to address this health and safety issue in companies. The guide provides a useful overview for experts and policymakers of the current situation regarding asbestos identification and registration models.

Main objectives of the initiative
In a bid to further develop trade unions' abilities to tackle health and safety risks in the construction sector, the EFBWW with the assistance of external experts from Kooperationsstelle Hamburg compiled a guide on various asbestos registration and identification models in Europe, including practical details of how to access and use the relevant information and expert services.

While previous social partner projects were designed as a 'last line of defence', the goal of the current project was to enable workers and their representatives in the construction sector to intervene at an early stage, so before the start of renovation, maintenance or demolition work for example, to identify harmful substances such as asbestos by calling on existing resources, such as registries for harmful substances and the services of experts.

The aim was also to plug the previous gap in knowledge by providing an overview of national approaches to registration of harmful substances in Europe as well as alternative detection measures, and to promote a preventive health and safety culture.

Key results
The results offer real benefits given the high levels of workforce mobility in the construction sector within the internal market. The guide will help trade union representatives take the appropriate steps to address this health and safety issue in companies and protect their fellow trade unionists from the risk of exposure to asbestos.

The initial target group for the project was made up of workers' representatives responsible for health and safety in construction firms, including SMEs. However, in the course of the research and during the five regional seminars, we found there was a lot of interest from experts such as labour inspectors, medical practitioners (occupational health) and other public authorities, who indicated its usefulness for their own work and as a basis for planning public policy.

The tangible outcome of the project is a guide to various registration and identification models in the EU, compiled by experts during the first year of the project, which provides a comparative overview of existing registration models in 27 countries and features practical information on where and how to identify and register asbestos, how to identify and access relevant services, e.g. expert assessment and laboratory analysis. In addition, the guide provides an overview of employers' legal obligations and workers' rights and obligations. Last but not least, the guide can help promote health and safety in the workplace and provide a source of best practices.

In the second stage of the project, five regional seminars were held at which workers' representatives and experts such as labour inspectors, public authorities, medical practitioners and employers had the chance to review and validate the guide and have an open discussion about their experiences. The seminars also provided an opportunity for transnational networking that might lead to further cooperation between the relevant stakeholders in future.

The EFBWW asbestos guide is available in English, French and German:
Click here to download the English Asbestos Guide;
Click here to download the French Asbestos Guide;
Click here to download the German Asbestos Guide.

In addition to the full report (available in English, French and German), fact sheets were drafted, containing a selection of essential information per country on alternative means for detection of asbestos and specific obligations for asbestos removal. These fact sheets were translated into a number of languages.

The following fact sheets are available:
Austria: available in English; Hungarian; Slovak; Slovenian;
BELGIUM: available in English; Dutch; Polish; Portuguese;
BULGARIA: available in English; Bulgarian; Czech; Spanish
; Polish;
CROATIA: available in English; Croatian; Italian; Slovenian;
CYPRUS: available in English; Greek; Polish;
DENMARK: available in English; Danish; Italian; Polish;
ESTONIA: available in English; Estonian; Lithuanian; Polish;
FINLAND: available in English; Finnish; Estonian; Lithuanian
; Polish;
FRANCE: available in English; Spanish; Polish; Portuguese;
GERMANY: available in English; Hungarian; Polish; Slovak
; Slovenian;
GREECE: available in English; Greek; Bulgarian; Spanish;
HUNGARY: available in English; Hungarian; Polish; Slovak;
IRELAND: available in English; Spanish; Polish;
ITALY: available in English; Italian; Spanish; Romanian;
LATVIA: available in English; Latvian; Lithuanian;
LITHUANIA: available in English; Lithuanian; Bulgarian; Polish;
MALTA: available in English; Italian; Polish;
POLAND: available in English; Polish; Spanish;
PORTUGAL: available in English; Portuguese; Spanish;
ROMANIA: available in English; Romanian; Spanish; Italian;
SLOVAKIA: available in English; Slovak; Czech; Polish;
SLOVENIA: available in English; Slovenian; Croatian; Italian;
SPAIN: available in English; Spanish; Italian; Portuguese;
SWEDEN: available in English; Swedish; Lithuanian; Polish
; Slovak;
SWITZERLAND: available in English; Polish; Italian; Romanian;
THE NETHERLANDS: available in English; Dutch; Polish;
UK: available in English; Spanish; Italian; Polish

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