Why Kansas Wants to Remove Asbestos Remediation Requirements

Officials in Kansas are attempting to repeal a law requiring annual training for asbestos removal workers, saying that federal laws make it redundant, but some are concerned that the repeal would cause unnecessary safety risks.

Kansas’ environmental regulatory agency is petitioning for the repeal a three decades-old law that requires annual training certification by Kansas officials of asbestos removal workers. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is seeking legislation that they say would not undermine federal mandates concerning asbestos abatement workers.

The KDHE would be jointly responsible with federal officials for asbestos-related requirements, such as inspecting for asbestos on construction sites, or resolving improper removal of asbestos complaints. According to KDHE representatives, House Bill 2516 seeks to mitigate redundancies – they say state law mirrors training requirements outlined in federal law.

While a petition to repeal a law that requires training for asbestos removal workers may seem shocking on the surface, the KDHE wants people to know that House Bill 2516 would only remove the requirement of a specific training course that, they believe, federal laws already cover.

Should House Bill 2516 become law, state licensing requirement for asbestos companies would not go away. However, there are about 900 workers who would no longer be required to go through KDHE certification every year.

Another change House Bill 2516 would accomplish concerns how long operators of asbestos abatement companies need to keep their records. Right now, it’s six years. Should this legislation take effect, it would drop down to three years.

Opponents of the bill are concerned that removing the state training requirement and reducing the number of years companies must keep their records could put people at risk. “Asbestos is scary stuff,” commented Rep. Annie Kuether of Topeka.

State regulations hit Kansas around 1985, prompted by concern over handling of asbestos that was being removed from public schools. Before these regulations, some opponents say, asbestos removal companies were doing shoddy work.

Some are concerned that carefulness and quality would revert back to pre-1985 levels if the law were to be repealed and requirements removed.

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