A building project which did not perform an asbestos assessment before commencing demolition work on a basement has resulted in a building company receiving a £5,000 fine.
During the project, two employees from the building firm were exposed to the dust while ripping down the ceiling of a basement. They used their hands and some hand tools to pull down the ceiling which it soon materialised, was made from asbestos.
Despite it becoming apparent that there was asbestos in the ceiling, the company still instructed the pair to continue work elsewhere on the site, without checking that clothes had not been contaminated by the deadly dust.
An investigation was conducted by the Health and Safety Executive in January 2013 and the company ended up being prosecuted at the Magistrates court in Bath.
The HSE found that there should have been a suitable assessment carried out to check for asbestos and that despite identifying it, the company did nothing to stop it being spread further. The building firm said that it regretted the incident but wanted to emphasise its staff were properly trained and they did obtain asbestos surveys, which they believed had not indicated the presence of the toxic substance.
The statement continued: “The company is very pleased that the magistrates acknowledged the steps we had taken to avoid this sort of incident. We are a responsible company with an excellent health and safety record and we believe this is reflected in the level of fine imposed.”
Paul Newton, a HSE Inspector who spoke after the hearing said: “The long-term effect of exposure to asbestos materials is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK and the exposure of these two workers to this dangerous substance was entirely preventable. A full survey of the area should have been carried out before work started and suitable plans put in place to deal with it.”
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Published 16th February 2015.