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13th December 2018

Developer Fined After Disturbing Asbestos

Asbestos Health and Safety Risks

What’s Happened?

The owner of a building has recently been fined and given a suspended prison sentence after it was discovered that major refurbishment had taken place without an asbestos survey.

When HSE Inspectors visited the large site in Manchester, they found that the Developer had renovated the building without firstly checking for asbestos. The offence was uncovered when the Inspector identified materials which were suspected to contain asbestos.

Contravention

Those who wish to carry out renovations in a property constructed prior to the Year 2000 must ensure that any asbestos-containing materials (ACM’s) are identified in advance. This enables the ACMs to be removed by a specialist contractor before construction or demolition work can disturb them.

The HSE decided to undertake its own survey of the site which subsequently confirmed large quantities of ACMs, some of which were in poor condition. The asbestos was found in areas not yet renovated which pointed to ACMs therefore clearly having been removed by the Developer where renovations were complete.

Paying the price

The court head how the Developers actions were undoubtedly premeditated as the HSE had actually taken enforcement action against him in the past for similar issues both at the Manchester address and another building in Altrincham!

At Manchester Magistrates’ Court on 9 October 2018 the Developer pleaded guilty to breaching the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and was sentenced to six month in prison, suspended for two years. He was also given a 250-hour community service order and had to pay costs of £5,742.

I’m in the Building Game – Do I always need a Survey?

You must always commission a refurbishment and demolition (R&D) asbestos survey in advance of any construction work on a building built before the year 2000.

2000 is the cut-off date after which you can assume that a building is free of ACMs and therefore can discount the presence of asbestos in such buildings.

If you have reliable evidence to show that there are no ACMs, in theory you don’t need an R&D survey. But be very sure of your ground – if you get this wrong it could be very costly in terms of health worries, clean-up costs, and business disruption and enforcement action. If in doubt, undertake the survey. You would be surprised to hear how many times our H&S team have heard the line ‘there’s no asbestos in here mate…’

If construction will affect just part of a building, then it’s perfectly acceptable to undertake a localised survey to cover just those areas – but do make sure that all areas where workers might need access are examined, e.g. plant rooms, attics and beneath floors.

For those areas which do not need an R&D survey and which have not been previously inspected, arrange for an asbestos management survey to cover these parts, and develop a management plan.

Lighthouse employs a team of qualified Asbestos consultants, and so if you have any queries regarding asbestos, require an asbestos survey undertaking on a property, or simply require some sample analysis undertaking – then don’t hesitate to contact us through the website or call us on 0845 4591724.

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