ACTION is being taken to protect tenants and maintenance workers in Wales against the danger of asbestos.

The Welsh Government’s communities minister Lesley Griffiths has written to every local authority and registered social landlord in Wales calling on them to ensure contractors are fully informed of asbestos in a property before starting maintenance work.

She has also warned organisations against relying on sample asbestos surveys, which only check a sample of homes and may be unreliable, and to ensure all workers are fully trained in how to spot the poisonous material and deal with it.

In the letter Ms Griffiths said: “I would like to emphasise the need for action to minimise the risk for both tenants and for those who work in the repair and maintenance of social housing.

“Where contractors are used by a social landlord for improvement works it is important for information from surveys and the asbestos register to be passed to the contractor in a timely and accurate manner.”

The Renting Homes (Wales) Act, which is expected to become law later this year, will place new requirements on private landlords to check properties are fit for habitation – taking asbestos into account.

Regional secretary with the Welsh branch of the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians Nick Blundell welcomed the move.

“If you don’t take asbestos seriously, more and more people will continue to die from exposure,” he said.

“Our members in the social housing maintenance sector face this danger on a daily basis.

“Poor and inadequate surveying can leave maintenance workers up to their eyeballs in asbestos dust – without any protection.”

“The minister’s words and the intentions of the Welsh Government to enshrine asbestos procedures into new legislation for Wales are not only sensible, timely and progressive - it’s lifesaving.”