Employees were not told of presence of asbestos fibres in working environment…
A plumbing company has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after two of their employees were exposed to dangerous asbestos material while working on a construction site in Aberystwyth, Wales.
The two workers, who now face the long-term risks associated with asbestos exposure, were not told about the presence of asbestos fibres at the site while carrying out their work duties from November 2010 to February 2011.
Aberystwyth Magistrates were told that the principal contractor for the site didn’t do enough to inform their employees about the asbestos threat nor did they fulfil their obligations to their employees of ensuring their safety. A routine inspection at the site conducted by HSE Inspectors discovered that refurbishment work was going ahead despite the fact that there was asbestos material in the working environment.
Prior to the inspection, workers had already moved 82 metres of cement board which were later tested and found to be “presumed to contain asbestos”. The plumbing company had failed to undertake any kind of asbestos survey prior to commencing their work on refurbishing the flats on the site and they had also failed to carry out a specific risk assessment for working in the proximity of asbestos fibres.
The plumbing company pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £5,000 in addition to £3,830 in prosecution costs.
HSE Inspector Phil Nicolle commented after the hearing had concluded:
“The company’s failure to follow advice, guidance and their own procedures to identify the presence of asbestos and plan for its safe removal has needlessly created a serious long term risk to workers’ health.
“Contractors must ensure an asbestos survey has been carried out where a building – or part of it – needs upgrading, refurbishment or demolition.
“The survey must locate and identify all asbestos-containing material before any structural work begins and appropriate arrangements put in place to deal with any asbestos containing materials that are uncovered.
“Around 4,000 people die every year as a result of breathing-in asbestos fibres, making it the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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