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Israel: New Law on Protection Against Asbestos

(Apr. 4, 2011) On March 28, 2011 the Knesset (Israel's Parliament) passed the Prevention of Hazards from Asbestos and Harmful Dust Law, 5771-2011. This comprehensive legislation calls for the prevention and minimization of environmental and health hazards caused by asbestos and similar harmful materials, in order to ensure a safe environment and improve the public's quality of life at present as well as in the future.

The Law limits the use of asbestos by providing specific time and usage restrictions for the removal and dumping of existing asbestos as well as on the continued use of asbestos in industrial facilities, public places, and equipment and vehicles used by the Israel Defense Forces. In addition to prohibiting any acts that would create an asbestos hazard, the Law provides instructions on measures that must be followed by persons who have a reasonable basis to assume that such a hazard has occurred in a place under their ownership or in their possession.

The new Law introduces a licensing requirement for persons who routinely come in contact with asbestos, including laboratory workers and operators of asbestos dumping facilities. The Law also requires permits as a precondition for engagement in specific asbestos-related jobs.

The Law authorizes the Minister of Environmental Protection to appoint a professional committee on asbestos and harmful dust. Members of the committee must include the person appointed by the Minister as the head of the asbestos licensing authority; two employees of the Ministry of Environmental Protection; two from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor; one employee of the Ministry of Health; a representative of the Institute for Occupational Safety and Hygiene; and a representative of the Israel Defense Forces. Additional committee members are an employee of a local authority, one to three experts on asbestos and harmful dust, and a public representative selected from a list of public environmental organizations. The committee will provide recommendations to the Minister and to the asbestos licensing authority on asbestos use, sampling and testing of asbestos, licensing, etc. (Prevention of Hazards from Asbestos and Harmful Dust Law, 5771-2011 & bill [both in Hebrew], the Knesset website, respectively (both last visited Apr. 1, 2011).)