Court

Companies Fined After Workers Exposed to Asbestos

Wednesday 9th August 2017

Three companies have been fined a total of more than £1m after workers were exposed to asbestos while refurbishing a school.

The Crown Court heard that on 24 July 2012 a worker removed part of a suspended ceiling in one of the ground floor refurbished rooms at the school and identified suspected asbestos containing materials. Asbestos fibers were subsequently found in numerous areas in the school.

The court heard that one of the companies had a contract with another company to manage development and refurbishment of its estate. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that although an asbestos survey was completed, there were multiple caveats and disclaimers which were not appropriately checked.

The principal contractor was fined £500,000 and ordered to pay costs of £32,364.84 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The development managers were fined £370,000 and ordered to pay £32,364.84 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The sub-contractor was fined £400,000 and ordered to pay costs of £175,000 after being found guilty after a trial of a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Speaking after the hearing a HSE inspector said: “The principal contractor and contractors on site did not review the survey report in detail, and did not take into consideration the multitude of caveats.

“Therefore, the work undertaken did not adopt the high standards of control expected for working where there was the potential to expose workers to asbestos.”

Business Man Sentenced for Illegal Asbestos Dumping

A businessman has been sentenced for illegally dumping deadly asbestos near a primary school. The gentleman who runs a garage renovation and building services business, left the material at an industrial estate close to a primary school, a nursing home and surrounding residential properties. The fly tipping came to light when a routine patrol by an estate employee found what appeared to be old asbestos sheeting at the rear of an industrial unit. CCTV footage showed the businessman depositing the sheets from the rear of a white transit van. The waste which was dumped in June last year, contained asbestos types Crocidolite and Chrysotile. Officers from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) investigated the case.

The businessman pleaded guilty to the contravention of section 33(1)(a)&(b) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 on 4th July 2017 and was given a Community Payback Order of 250 hours. Sara Shaw, Procurator Fiscal, Wildlife and Environments said ‘’There is no excuse for illegal dumping, especially of hazardous wastes such as asbestos, and those who choose to engage in it, will be brought to account for their actions.’’

Council Fined for Ignoring Asbestos Warnings

A council has been fined £10,500 after failing to act on warnings about asbestos in the basement of its old headquarters, for 9 years. A court heard that the council had ignored three warnings about the danger.

The court heard that three workers were sent into the basement to give it a ‘deep clean’ and were not provided with protective clothing or masks despite warnings in 2003, 2010 & 2011 about high priority risk from damaged pipe lagging.

Inspectors from the Institute of Occupation Medicine had issued recommendations that the asbestos should be removed as soon as possible and the area decontaminated and cleaned. However, these warnings were not passed on to staff members.

A further investigation in 2012 warned about the asbestos in the basement, causing the council’s health and safety department to realise there was a risk that employees had been exposed.

The council admitted breaching The Health & Safety at Work Act between 13th May 2003 and 31st May 2012 and were fined £10,500.

Contractor Fined £750,000 for Asbestos Failure

A company has been fined £750,000 after failing to prevent workers being exposed to asbestos during building work. The company pleaded guilty to two health and safety offences after workers were exposed to asbestos while converting an office block into flats.

A first HSE investigation found that the company had failed to act on an asbestos survey that revealed asbestos on the site in 2013, this meant that over 40 workers were exposed during the demolition stage of the project.

A contractor was appointed to remove the remaining asbestos, but a second HSE investigation found that the company were unable to provide evidence that asbestos had been removed correctly.

The HSE inspector said the company’s failure to prevent workers from being exposed to asbestos was “reckless”.

He added: “The company’s failings in this case has put many workers at risk to the exposure of asbestos. It was clear there was an endemic failure to effectively manage the construction work on the site in a way which ensured that asbestos materials were not disturbed until removed under appropriate conditions.”