Worker wasn’t informed of asbestos risk in shop unit… A contractor And a retailer in Cheltenham have been prosecuted by the HSE after a construction worker was exposed to asbestos while working on refurbishments to a shop unit on Cheltenham High Street in February 2010.
The man had been employed to replace a suspended ceiling and in the process of this work the 28-year-old ended up removing up to 85 metres of asbestos insulation board on 16 and 17 February 2010. Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court heard that this work was undertaken without any kind of controls or protection being put in place to ensure the safety of the worker. Furthermore the contractor had failed to complete an asbestos survey prior to beginning the refurbishment.
The HSE also referred to the fact that the retailer had failed to inform the contracted worker of the presence of asbestos within the building. In these situations it is expected that a demolition job be carried out by a qualified and certified asbestos removal team and that a refurbishment survey be completed and the results made available to relevant personnel – both of these tasks were seemingly ignored and this lack of asbestos awareness could potentially lead to a life-threatening illness for the exposed worker.
HSE inspector Simon Chilcott spoke after the hearing:
“As a result of the failings of the contractor and retailer, people were unnecessarily exposed to asbestos. This incident could have been avoided if the retailer had provided information on the presence of asbestos in the building and the contractor had ensured he had seen a demolition and refurbishment survey before commencing the renovation work.
“The risks of asbestos are well known in the construction industry as are the controls required in dealing with it. 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 retailer pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 10 (1) (b) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007 and had a fine of £3,500 imposed in addition to to paying costs of £1,836. The contractor pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and was fined £600 and ordered to pay £800 in costs.
The HSE estimate that asbestos-related illnesses are responsible for around 4,000 deaths every year.