Asbestos lined pipes were transported all the way to salvage yard without being checked…
Members of the Royal Navy as well as other workers were exposed to dangerous asbestos fibres after pipes containing the material were left by a road, placed in a skip and taken to a salvage yard.
The pipes which were lined with asbestos insulation were transported from a navy base in Gosport in September 2009 during a work project which involved replacing a water system. The main contractor responsible for the site along with a company that was subcontracted by them to transport the pipes were both charged with safety breaches at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court.
After the pipes were eventually delived to the salvage yard, the salvage firm became aware of the asbestos material and contacted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on 20 October 2009.
The subsequent investigation by the HSE discovered that the main contractor and sub-contractor had failed to undertake an adequate checks of the pipes and failed to identify the presence of asbestos inside of them. Furthermore it was revealed that employees of both companies in addition to workers at the salvage yard and Navy personnel could all be at risk of developing illnesses associated with asbestos exposure as they were all in the vicinity of the pipes at one stage or another.
The sub-contractor responsible for transporting the pipes, was fined a total of £18,000 and ordered to pay £4,291 in costs after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. The main contractor on the site was fined £12,000 with costs of £5,196 after also pleading guilty to a single breach of the same legislation.
HSE Inspector Adam Wycherley spoke after the sentencing:
“Before anyone undertakes any demolition or refurbishment works they must take appropriate steps to ensure they have reliable information regarding the materials they are dealing with, an essential requirement that is specifically in place to identify the presence of asbestos.
“Both companies failed in this regard. They wrongly assumed there was no asbestos without carrying out proper checks to back that up with hard evidence.
“As a result a number of workers for several different companies, as well as passing Navy personnel, were put at unnecessary risk. Anyone walking past the pipes could have inhaled fibres as they became airborne, and they posed a major contamination hazard.
“Thousands of people die every year as a result of asbestos-related disease, and duty holders cannot afford to take any chances or make assumptions.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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