North Warwickshire Borough Council and decorating firm Intal Decorators Limited have been prosecuted after workers were exposed to asbestos fibers.
Leamington Spa Magistrates heard (31 October) the council were refurbishing a community centre in March 2012 and asked the decorating firm to remove an “insulation board”.
The material should have been removed under controlled conditions by a licensed contractor. Instead it was spread around the site. Other tradesmen on the site realised what was happening and reported the situation to managers, which led to a visit from HSE.
HSE found the council had undertaken an asbestos survey but failed to pass information to Intal Decorators Limited, who also failed to carry out its own assessment of the insulation boards to check whether asbestos was present.
North Warwickshire Borough Council pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for failing to provide sufficient information and instruction to its contractors regarding the presence, nature and scope of work involving asbestos. It was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,200.
Intal Decorators Limited, of Birmingham, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 for removing asbestos-containing materials without carrying out an assessment. It was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay a further £500 in costs.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Paul Cooper said:
“Refurbishment and demolition work must be planned and carefully thought through, especially where asbestos may be present. It is reasonable to expect North Warwickshire Borough Council to have planned its work in such a way that workers were not put at risk of exposure to this deadly material.
Intal Decorators Limited should have undertaken an assessment of the risks involved in its activities at the community centre and fulfilled its responsibilities as a contractor and employer to protect those on site.
As a result of these failures Intal employees, and potentially other tradesmen on site, were exposed to harmful asbestos fibers.”
Lighthouse Comments: It is very sad when professional institutions fail to complete the basic legal requirements properly. Especially when Asbestos is concerned. The latest figures released show that 20 construction tradesmen die each week from asbestos illnesses. This will continue to get worse and increase until the year 2020. Asbestos needs to be controlled. Get some help!