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11th May 2017

Company fined £750,000 for asbestos failings

Refurbishment contractors, Barroerock Construction Ltd, have recently been fined £750,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,874.68 after failing miserably in managing asbestos on a site they were working on in Kent, resulting in exposing around 200 workers to the deadly fibres.

How did this happen?

Barroerock Construction Ltd was converting a former nine storey office building into flats in Ashford, Kent, which was known to contain asbestos. The HSE carried out two investigations of working practices following complaints being made about the health and safety practices at the site.

What went wrong?

Canterbury Crown Court heard that the first investigation arose from a routine inspection during one of HSE’s refurbishment campaigns. It was found that despite having arranged for an asbestos survey to be undertaken, the company had failed to act on the recommendations made in the report.
Rather strangely, a licensed asbestos removal contractor had actually been engaged to work on site and remove the identified asbestos materials, however – dangerous practices were still continuing and when requested by the HSE, the company was unable to provide documentation to show that asbestos materials identified in the survey had actually been correctly removed.

When the work on site was halted for the second time about 160 people were working inside the building.

It was found in both HSE investigations that these incidents could have been prevented if Barroerock ensured they had effective management controls in place to avoid the risk of exposure to asbestos.
Refurbishment contractors – Barroerock, who had pleaded guilty to two offences of breaching Regulation 22 (1) (a) of the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2007 at an earlier hearing, were fined £750,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,874.68.

The HSE inspector involved in the case said: “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. Failing to prevent the breathing in of asbestos fibres on the site is reckless”, he added.

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