Demolition firm didn’t have license for asbestos removal… A demolition company has been prosecuted for knocking down a building that had hundreds of ceiling tiles containing asbestos in the Lake District area.
The asbestos material in the tiles could put the lives of the workers involved in the demolition work and many nearby residents at risk of developing life-threatening illnesses. The demolition work was carried out at what used to be a photography studio in Staveley from August to September 2011. The firm did not have the specific license required for an asbestos removal job.
Kendal Magistrates’ Court heard that the demolition firm had been provided with a survey detailing the 166 square metres of asbestos ceiling tiles within the premises yet they decided to press ahead with the demolition job without hiring a licensed asbestos removal contractor to dispose of the tiles in a safe manner. As a result the potentially life-threatening asbestos fibres were released into the air after the building was destroyed.
The company pleaded guilty to multiple breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 which included exposing workers to asbestos fibres, allowing the fibres to be released in public areas and failing to get the licence required to remove asbestos materials. The Preston-based company was fined £10,800 in addition to costs of £3,638.95 on 20 March.
Allen Shute, the HSE Inspector who investigated the case commented after the hearing:
“This company put the lives of workers in danger by cutting corners, and not using a licensed contractor to safely remove the asbestos ceiling tiles.
“Several houses back onto the site of the factory so local residents were also put at risk, although luckily the level of their exposure to asbestos fibres is likely to have been relatively low.
“However, the workers on the site will now have to live with the knowledge that they may develop a deadly asbestos-related disease in the years to come because of the actions of IBT Contracting.”
Asbestos was widely used in ceiling tiles to help insulate buildings until around 20 years ago. The tiles become dangerous only when they are broken up and their fibres are released. When the asbestos fibres are breathed in they may lead to lung cancer or other respiratory illnesses but symptoms can take many years to appear.
It is estimated that up to 4,000 people die every year in the UK as a result of their exposure to asbestos fibres meaning it is the single biggest cause of work-related deaths in the UK even if those affected don’t die until many years later after coming into contact with the asbestos.