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DUTY TO MANAGE ASBESTOS BREACHED

Firm fined after maintenance workers faced potential asbestos exposure

A Teesside engineering firm where two workers were potentially exposed to asbestos fibres has been ordered to pay over £8k in fines and prosecution costs.

Darchem Engineering Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 10(1) and 4(3) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 at Teesside Magistrates Court.

On 13 November 2008 two maintenance workers were relocating a junction box in a reception area. The work required drilling into asbestos insulation board (AIB).

Darchem Engineering Ltd failed to adequately manage the risks from asbestos on the site and as a result the two workers were potentially exposed to asbestos fibres.

Firm failed in duty to manage asbestos

When in good condition and undisturbed, asbestos-containing material presents no problem. However, when damaged or disturbed, it can release fibres.

After the case, HSE Inspector Andrew Mulligan said: “Around 20 tradesmen a week are dying from asbestos-related diseases. Darchem Engineering Limited failed to manage the risks from asbestos on the site, potentially exposing two of its workers to these hazardous fibres.

“A suitable and sufficient assessment should have been carried out and the company should have made sure that their employees had adequate information, instruction and training.

“Fortunately a contractor who had asbestos awareness training identified the potential for asbestos to be present and work was stopped. He knew the key message: if in doubt stop and check.”

Anyone with responsibility for maintenance activities, must check for the presence of asbestos material and, depending on its condition, either remove or manage it.

If they choose to manage it they must make sure that information on the location and condition of the material is given to anyone whose work might disturb it. They must also ensure that any work carried out does not expose anyone to asbestos fibres.

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