Suffolk company in court for unsafe asbestos removal

A building company has been fined as a result of removing asbestos insulation board without a licences and failing to protect its workers from falls of which were up to 4 metres in a farm building.

Workers were potentially exposed to dangerous asbestos fibres and were only provided with baby wipe or to a hose for decontamination from the asbestos.

The court heard that the Health and Safety Executive was alerted by a member of the public who was concerned about the unsafe work which was being undertaken at the farm.

The HSE investigation found that the firm did not have a licence permitted to remove asbestos, despite telling the farm owner that they held the necessary approvals. None of the workers were trained to work with licensed asbestos and were also placed in danger of falling from height whilst removing the fragile asbestos boards.

The HSE found that work carried out between the 26 and 28 February 2014 was lacking safety measures to protect their workers from danger. Asbestos insulating boards were broken from their fixings with wholly inadequate attempts to prevent the uncontrolled release of fibres. There was no use of an enclosure and the respiratory protective equipment provided to workers offered insufficient protection.

The workers were not even open to the proper decontamination process which is normally a three stage event. however on this occasion workers only had access to baby wipes and the farms cold water hose.

The investigation also identified the workers were at risk of falls of up to four metres owing to absent or inadequately installed safety netting and a harness and inertia reel being used inappropriately.

The firm were fined a total of £10,000 and ordered to £3365.50 in costs plus a £120 victim surcharge after pleading guilty to separate breaches of the Work at Height Regulations and the Control of Asbestos Regulations.

Section 4(1) of the Work at Height regulations 2005 states: “Every employer shall ensure that work at height is properly planned; appropriately supervised; and carried out in a manner which is so far as is reasonably practicable safe.”

Regulation 8(1) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 states: “An employer must hold a licence granted under paragraph (2) before undertaking any licensable work with asbestos.”

Source: HSE