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Asbestos In Uncertified, Second-hand Safes & Fire Proof Cabinets

Asbestos In Uncertified, Second-hand Safes & Fire Proof Cabinets

Following on from our recent investigation into asbestos in safes and fire cabinets for a prominent legal magazine it is now obvious that safes and fire-resistant cabinets containing asbestos are common on the second-hand market in Ireland and are present in countless businesses across the country. Most of these units are being used by unsuspecting clients and office staff who are risking exposure to asbestos fibres on a daily basis.

The risk of asbestos exposure for safe technicians, locksmiths and their clients are even more pronounced and alarming when one of these dated units has to be serviced or drilled open, yet I am aware of no warnings coming from self-proclaimed “Safe Experts”, Safe Supplier or Locksmith organisations in Ireland.

  • What does it say about such “experts” and organisations that such a potent risk to health of locksmiths, safe technicians and clients has gone unmentioned for so long?
  • Are we to believe that such organisations and “experts” have been unaware of the asbestos issue when in the case of my recent investigation I found that information on the scale of the problem was readily available?

There is however a metaphorical Elephant in the room and that is the lucrative trade of second-hand safes and fireproof filing cabinets finding their way to Ireland from the U.K.

The U.K.’s asbestos ban quite predictably led to a surge of safes and cabinets that had to be disposed of but somehow the fact that many of these safes may contain asbestos seems to have been overlooked in the Irish market.

The “disposal” through re-sale of unwanted and uncertified safes has been aided in no small part through dissemination of invented “insurance rates” for these units’ courtesy of a prominent and official sounding U.K. organisation The Association of Insurance Surveyors and their widely circulated a list of “approved safes”, the AIS list.

This list of “insurance recommendations” conveniently claims to provide “ratings” for uncertified and often pre-certification safes, some dating back to before WWII and goes on to claim that these “rates” are suitable for “the United Kingdom and the Republic of Eire”.

Revealingly however the list says it “makes no representation or promise that it is appropriate for use outside these territories.”

One wonders why among all other European countries this list, with insurance rates given in pounds sterling, has been deemed “appropriate” by its creators for the Republic of Ireland and why there is no mention of an issue as serious as the probable presence of asbestos in pre-certification safes in the lists introduction?

Any “safe rating list” coming from the U.K. or any source other than the Irish insurance industry itself is of course complete nonsense in the jurisdiction of the Republic of Ireland. The Irish Safes Ratings Group is the only group that periodically updates and recommends insurance ratings related to the overnight cash cover for certified safes, strong rooms and secure cabinets, conforming to European standards, for the Republic Of Ireland. The National Standards Authority of Ireland and The Private Security Authority sit in an observer capacity on the group.

The only way to be 100% sure that a pre-certification safe or filing cabinet does not contain asbestos is to ensure that it carries a nationally accredited certification badge that includes the date of manufacture where the country of origin can be established and in the case of pre-European certification safes to cross reference this information against national asbestos bans.

However even if it is established a pre-certification safe does not contain asbestos there is still the fact that Irish safes ratings are only related to safes, strong rooms and secure cabinets, conforming to accredited European standards as is the situation across most of Europe.

If you have been sold a second-hand, uncertified safe, filing cabinet or data cabinet get it checked by a Certified Safes Ireland expert immediately. If you have purchased such a unit and have a record of the purchase, you may be entitled to a very high level of compensation.

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