An architecture practice has been prosecuted after builders were potentially exposed to dangerous asbestos fibres during construction work at Aberystwyth Rugby Club in Mid Wales.
Aberystwyth Magistrates heard that Dilwyn Roberts Penseiri/Architects Ltd failed to pass on vital information about the presence of asbestos insulation board to builders before they removed soffits from an end wall at the clubhouse in January 2012.
The situation came to light during a routine inspection of the work by a HSE (Health and Safety Executive) inspector, who found remains of damaged asbestos insulation boards on the gable end of the clubhouse.
A subsequent HSE investigation found that Dilwyn Roberts Penseiri/Architects Ltd had been appointed to design and oversee the work at the clubhouse and to act as the Construction, Design and Management Co-ordinator for the project.
Although an asbestos survey was commissioned by the rugby club and sent to the architects, this was never shown to the contractors even though it clearly identified the presence of asbestos insulation board.
When the work was tendered in August 2011, the practice prepared the pre-construction information and advised that an asbestos survey had identified asbestos cement in the soffits, but not the asbestos insulating board.
Unlike asbestos cement products, asbestos insulation board requires removal by licensed companies under strictly controlled conditions.
In January 2012, the building contractor removed the soffits on the end wall but had not recognised the material as asbestos boards.
Dilwyn Roberts Penseiri/Architects Ltd of Newtown, Powys, pleaded guilty to a safety breach and was fined £5,400 and ordered to pay £2,917 in costs.
HSE Inspector Phil Nicolle, speaking after the hearing, said: “Construction Design and Management Co-ordinators are required to identify and collect pre-construction information for projects. It should contain all information relevant to the health and safety of people engaged in, affected by the work or using the building as a future workplace. Dilwyn Roberts Penseiri/Architects Ltd failed to pass on vital survey information, which they were aware of, resulting in a construction worker being exposed to asbestos fibres.”
Source: Construction Enquirer
LST Comment: The CDM Regs 2007 places an absolute duties on Designers to pass on information to Contractors about hazards that are present and hazards that may form part of the construction process, i.e. hazards that would not ordinarily be expected to be known by or easily recognised by a competent contractor. For example, there would be no need for a Designer to inform a contractor that there would be a need to work at height, a competent contractor would be able to identify this risk and arrange working practises in such a manner to minimise theses risks.
However, where risks are not ordinarily known, Designers and indeed ultimately Clients, should ensure that these risks are made known to those conducting the works. Suitable control measures and safe systems of work can then be developed and implemented.