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7th October 2011

Demolition firm fined for Asbestos failings

A demolition contractor has been fined £5,000 with costs of £6,828 after ignoring repeated warnings from the HSE and exposing workers to potentially deadly asbestos during demolition of a site

The court heard how the company was first served with a Prohibition Notice ceasing activity at the site in February 2010, because work to remove asbestos cement sheeting debris was likely to generate asbestos dust which could have posed a health risk to those working at the site.

Before resuming work, the company was required to produce a plan for the safe removal of asbestos to make sure it was properly managed.

A management plan was developed to keep the asbestos cement in a safe condition by damping down the waste until it was removed from the site. However, a further visit by the HSE on 27 May 2010 found the company had ignored the guidelines in its own plan, as the site was dry, and no damping down had been undertaken for a week.

Excavators were also found to be moving rubble contaminated with asbestos-containing debris, and tracking over asbestos cement fragments, potentially contaminating workers with asbestos dust.

The HSE inspector involved in the case said:

“The company was well aware of what it should have done to ensure the health of its workers and others when working with asbestos-containing materials at the site.

“”Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK. This prosecution sends a clear message to demolition contractors that they cannot ignore the safe practices required to work with asbestos cement products. HSE will continue to prosecute those lacking.”

Asbestos-related diseases are responsible for around 4,000 deaths a year. Working on or near damaged asbestos-containing materials or breathing in high levels of asbestos fibres, which may be many hundreds of times that of environmental levels, could increase your chances of getting an asbestos-related disease.

For further information about the dangers of asbestos, and working safely with asbestos containing materials, contact our health and safety consultants via the advice line on 0845 459 1724.

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