Principal Contractor failed to communicate danger of asbestos exposure…
A business in Wokingham has been fined after two subcontractors were exposed to asbestos fibres at Reading University.
The company that was prosecuted had been contracted to carry out refurbishments at the room at the University and they subcontracted that project to a firm based in Newbury who themselves hired two self-employed men to carry out the work.
Reading Magistrates’ Court was told that in September 2009 the two men inadvertently drilled through a sprayed asbestos coating on the ceiling of the room they were working in. The men had not been informed of the presence of asbestos in the room, on the contrary they believed that all asbestos material had been removed by specialist removal workers prior to the commencement of their work.
The subsequent investigation by the HSE discovered that the principal contractor had been made aware of the asbestos-containing materials at the site but they had failed to inform their subcontractors of this fact so that the necessary preventative measures could have been taken. Asbestos awareness is of particular importance in the construction industry according to the HSE and in this case the dangers were overlooked.
The principal contractor based in Wokingham in Berkshire pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and Regulation 23(1)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and was fined a total of £28,000 and ordered to pay £22,631 in costs.
HSE inspector Adam Wycherley spoke after the hearing had concluded:
“This case highlights the importance of effective planning when addressing risks in construction, particularly in refurbishment, where there is a higher risk of coming into contact with asbestos.
“The principal contractor had a clear duty of care to relay important information to its subcontractors in a reliable manner in order to prevent their exposure to asbestos, but this simply did not happen.
“As a result of poor planning, two men were exposed to high levels of asbestos fibres, leaving them at risk of contracting serious diseases such as lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis of the lungs.”
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