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9th November 2022

Company Fined After Staff Exposed to Asbestos

Person performing asbestos removal

What’s Happened?

Logistics giant Eddie Stobart has recently been fined £133,000 after work at one of its sites exposed staff to asbestos.

The firm was fined following a series of failures that took place while excavation work was carried out at its rail and container freight port in Widnes. The works resulted in the disturbance of Asbestos containing materials (ACMs), putting staff on site at risk.

HSE Investigation

This work took place over several months and subsequently the remnants of old buildings containing asbestos were present in the surface material. Underground basement cavities were also found and excavated and then backfilled with rubble. Several workers complained about the dust created by these processes and what it may contain.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found an asbestos survey had not been carried out nor had suitable control measures been put in place to prevent or reduce exposure to asbestos or prevent the spread of asbestos containing materials from the site. The workers involved in the excavation work hadn’t even received any training in relation to asbestos.

It was several months after the work had been completed that testing was carried out and the subsequent survey identified ACMs in the mounds of spoil, as well as scattered around the footprint where the work had taken place.

The company also then failed to report the incident under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) within the 10-day timeframe required for such instances.

In Court

Eddie Stobart Ltd, attended Manchester Crown Court on 4 th November 2022 where they pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 of The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and Regulation 11(1) of The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. The company was fined £133,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9,260.

Following the hearing, the HSE Inspector involved in the case said: “Asbestos was historically used in countless applications and can be found in a variety of places.’’

“The law requires businesses undertaking work in demolition, maintenance or any other work which exposes or is liable to expose employees to asbestos to assume ACMs are present unless you have evidence, such as an asbestos survey to indicate otherwise.

“The duty to manage asbestos relates to entire premises including yard areas, not just buildings. There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.”

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