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News added on 12.02.2015

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Asbestos

Suffolk company fined for unsafe asbestos removal

Asbestos is always a top target for the HSE. In a recent case unsafe asbestos removal led to a prosecution. What can you learn from it?

Asbestos prosecution. A building company from Suffolk has been prosecuted after removing asbestos insulation board from a farm building in Essex. In addition, the employer also failed to ensure that employees carried out work at height in a safe manner and were put at risk of falls up to four metres. It was found that the only decontamination measures offered to workers were baby wipes and a hose. The boards were broken from their fixings with inadequate attempts to prevent the release of fibres. Workers wore contaminated overalls over their own clothing, wore them during lunch breaks and may have taken them home at night covered in asbestos fibres. In addition, the company did not have a licence allowing it remove asbestos, nor were the workers trained in this type of work.

After pleading guilty to offences under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and Work at Height Regulations 2005, the company was fined £10,000 with costs of £3,365.50 plus a victim surcharge of £120.

This case highlights the potential consequences when a company is incompetent. Not only were the workers put at risk from asbestos, they were also at risk from serious falls from height. The measures for decontamination were woefully inadequate and could have led to others being exposed to asbestos fibres, including anyone they interacted with whilst wearing contaminated overalls and their families at home. Only licensed contractors should carry out this type of work to ensure that it is properly managed in line with regulatory requirements.

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