Two companies fined for series of safety failings that exposed employees to asbestos…
An engineering company and a construction firm have been prosecuted after workers were exposed to dangerous asbestos fibres at a demolition site in Swansea.
Neath Magistrates’ Court heard that the project was not managed in a safe manner as untrained staff were left to supervise working operations and no adequate asbestos surveys were carried out prior to the commencement of the project.
The engineering firm had in fact carried out two asbestos management surveys. While these surveys were not of the expected standard they did still identify the presence of asbestos fibres in several places at the site but the company failed to act on the information garnered from them. The construction firm had also been advised by the Health and Safety Executive that it was necessary to undertake a separate refurbishment and demolition survey but had not complied with this request.
The HSE investigation into work practices at the site discovered that there was no qualified project co-ordinator or contractor present who might have planned and managed the work in a safe manner. Even the advice from the health and safety manager was dismissed when he highlighted the fact that the company was legally obliged to inform the HSE about the demolition phase of the project.
The construction company was criticised for failing to carry out a structural assessment of the building. They also neglected their duty to provide staff with asbestos awareness training.
The engineering company was fined a total of £16,000 and ordered to pay £3,287 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
The construction firm was fined £8,000 with costs of £2,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulations 16 and 11(1) (a) of the of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.
HSE Inspector, Anne Marie Orrells spoke after the hearing:
“Both companies involved in this case demonstrated significant failings throughout the management of the project, which put the lives of their respective workers at risk.
“Demolition and refurbishment work must be properly planned and managed by competent personnel with the right training and experience.
“Proper structural and asbestos surveys must be made and a full risk assessment carried out for all the work to be undertaken.
“Had a Refurbishment and Demolition survey been undertaken, and had a licensed asbestos contractor been used to removal all asbestos materials prior to the work starting, then the risk would have been eliminated.
“Instead this inadequate response left workers exposed to asbestos fibres, which can cause potentially fatal lung disease. The health and safety of workers must not be left to chance.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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