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REFURB FIRM FINED AFTER ASBESTOS SCARE

Refurbishment work triggered country club asbestos fears

Nationwide Building Contractors Limited of Hampshire has been fined after visiting HSE Inspectors found refurbishment work in progress without adequate enquires regarding the presence if asbestos containing materials (ACMs).

The company had been contracted to refurbish Hall Garth Hotel Golf and Country Club, at Coatham Mundeville, near Darlington.

Adequate checks for ACMs not carried out 

Inspectors found refurbishment work being carried out without an adequate check (survey) for asbestos or asbestos-containing materials.

A Prohibition Notice was issued immediately stopping construction work. Further investigations found large amounts of asbestos pipe lagging in walls and floor voids where work had been undertaken.

HSE worked with local EHOs and the hotel management to ensure that asbestos fibres had not spread to the occupied areas of the hotel. The hotel was voluntarily closed while tests were undertaken. Fortunately the test results in the public areas were negative.

The company was fined £4.5k at Darlington Magistrates’ Court for offences under Regulations 5, 11 and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. Magistrates indicated that the fine would have been considerably higher if the defendant had not now been in liquidation. 

Refurb workers at greatest risk from asbestos

After the case, HSE Inspector Victoria Wise said: “Construction and maintenance workers are the most at-risk groups from asbestos-related diseases due to the nature of their work.

The widespread occurrence of asbestos as a product in buildings constructed or refurbished prior to 2000, means that inadvertent disturbance of asbestos-containing materials can be frequent and regular where asbestos products have not been adequately identified or managed.

“Nationwide Building Contractors could have prevented this risk and should have ensured that the asbestos containing materials in the work areas had been identified and, where necessary, removed – then the information passed on to those who were liable to disturb the fabric of the building.

“This prosecution should act as a reminder to those in the construction industry, and those in control of the repair and maintenance of buildings, of the importance of ensuring that a suitable and sufficient assessment for asbestos has been carried out and that the correct control measures are in place to ensure that exposure to asbestos is prevented, so far as is reasonably practicable.”

Asbestos products have been widely used in the UK since the end of the 19th century and were used in the construction and refurbishment of buildings until 1999.

Asbestos can cause a number of fatal or serious respiratory conditions if fibres are inhaled. Asbestos exposure is the most serious occupational health issue in the UK, and is responsible for approximately 4,000 deaths each year.

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