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ASBESTOS AWARENESS TRAINING PROSECUTION

Refurbishment contractor fined following failure to ensure workforce aware

A refurbishment contractor has been fined after failing to provide ‘asbestos awareness training’ to his workforce. The court heard that adequate information, instruction and training was not given regarding the procedures required when dealing with asbestos.

Neil Brown, 45, trading as High View Services, of North Tyneside, was fined £360 by North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court today after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 10(1)(a) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. He was also ordered to pay £360 costs.

Offence discovered during home refurb

The court heard how the breach came to light in January 2009 during investigation of an asbestos-related incident at a North Tyneside Council house. The heating ststem in the property was being upgraded at the time.

HSE found that work conducted by the workforce could readily bring them into contact with asbestos yet they had not been given any asbestos awareness training.

After the case, HSE Inspector Graham Watson said:

“Any employer who conducts work which may result in their employees coming into contact with asbestos must make sure they receive adequate information, instruction and training to help control not just the risks to themselves but others who may also be exposed.

You are most likely to find asbestos in buildings built or refurbished before 2000. Anyone conducting refurbishment work in such buildings, where they are likely to disturb the fabric of the building, must therefore make sure that their employees are properly trained. This includes not only making sure there are arrangements for training new employees but also providing regular refresher training.

Many workers think they are not at risk of exposure to asbestos or the diseases it can cause. They think that since asbestos was banned many years ago, the problem has been dealt with and is not relevant to them. The reality, however, is very different and so adequate information, instruction and training is essential.”

Comment

HSE point out that exposure to asbestos is the biggest single cause of work-related deaths Around 4,000 people a year dying from asbestos-related diseases. Those most at risk are those who carry out building maintenance and refurbishment work such as electricians, plasterers, plumbers and carpenters.

The fine in this case is low and probably reflects the lack of evidence of exposure to asbestos. However, the prosecution could have disastrous consequences for the contractor regarding securing future work with this local authority and other clients.

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