Contracted workers were allowed to work in room containing asbestos…
An aerospace services and construction company have been prosecuted by the HSE after an investigation revealed that some of their employees were exposed to asbestos at the company’s premises in Yeovil.
A team of construction workers were hired by the aerospace company to remove ceiling tiles from a treatment facilities room on 17 June 2010 which led to them being put in the dangerous position of working in proximity to asbestos.
Yeovil Magistrates’ Court heard that the aerospace company had carried out a survey of the room before commencing the refurbishment work but they ignored the results of this survey.
The HSE investigation also found that the contracted worked hired to carry out the job didn’t have the necessary qualifications to work in an environment that contained asbestos nor did they have the skills to conduct a sufficiently thorough assessment of the area.
The court heard that that company let the removal work take place without taking all necessary measures to protect the safety of the contracted workers. No demolition and refurbishment survey had been commissioned by the company which put the workers at great risk.
The aerospace services company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £5,885 in costs. The construction company who the employees worked for were also prosecuted and admitted to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £3,400 and ordered to pay £5,885 in costs.
HSE Inspector Annette Walker spoke after the hearing:
“Neither party made sufficient efforts to identify the asbestos liabilities associated with the work prior to work commencing. The aerospace services company’s records identified the presence of asbestos insulating board in the ceiling tiles of that room. However, they relied upon the observations of contractors without the necessary competencies required to make the decision that asbestos was not present nor did they convey their information to the contractors.
“The construction company were active in making the decision that the ceiling tiles did not contain asbestos. In fact, a number of ceiling tiles were clearly marked with asbestos stickers and these were ignored.
“As a result, a number of individuals were unnecessarily exposed to the risks associated with airborne asbestos fibres through failure to adequately assess and manage the works. Exposure to asbestos can have fatal or serious long term health consequences and, as such, every precaution must be taken to minimise any risks when working on buildings.”
The HSE report that Asbestos-related illnesses are responsible for around 4,000 deaths every year and asbestos is considered to be the biggest killer in the UK workplace.
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