Labour Research December 2001

Features: Health and safety matters

TUC welcomes asthma code

The TUC has hailed as a victory the decision by the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) to publish an Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) on work-related asthma. It follows a decade-long union battle for a code.

The ACoP will explain how employers can comply with the law and will have legal status. It will be published as an annex to the COSHH hazardous substances regulations in the summer or autumn of 2002.

Other measures agreed by the HSC include:

* a target to reduce cases of asthma caused by substances at work by 30% over the next nine years;

* setting up a project board with members from industry, unions, charities involved with asthma and health professionals to develop and implement an action plan; and

* new guidance for employers on steps they need take to control the main causes of asthma.

The project board will pilot some of its ideas in specific areas and will then roll them out to other areas if they work well. The HSE intends to improve compliance through greater enforcement, inspection and increased emphasis on health surveillance.

The TUC and the HSE are also working in partnership to pilot new training courses for safety reps that will help to ensure compliance with existing laws and the new ACoP.