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COUNCIL MANAGEMENT ARM FAIL ON ASBESTOS MANAGEMENT

Asbestos survey results not communicated to plumbing contractor 

An organisation set up by Rotherham Council to manage and improve council housing stock has been prosecuted after allowing a plumber to be exposed to up to 50 times the legal limit for asbestos.

The company 2010 Rotherham Limited engaged sub-contactor, Nugas of Barnsley, to remove an old bathroom and install a level-access shower room. An asbestos survey eight weeks earlier had highlighting the presence of asbestos in such bathrooms. However, the results were not passed on to Nugas.

Workman unknowlingly removed AIB

A Nugas employee therefore unknowingly removed tiles bonded to a wall of asbestos insulating board (AIB). He was not wearing any protective clothing nor respiratory protection. The company had received previous advice and enforcement action regarding the risks from asbestos during refurbishment work. 

The company pleaded guilty to breaching the Health & Safety at Work Act and was fined £7,000 with £3,418 costs. After the case, HSE Inspector Dave Bradley said:

“The method of removal of the tiles by Nugas’s plumber, and the subsequent cleaning and bagging of the debris, are liable to have resulted in a significant exposure to asbestos fibres.

It is imperative that information on the location of asbestos is provided to contractors before they are allowed to begin work. In this case 2010 Rotherham could have done this as they had the results from an asbestos survey on an identical property next door, and probably entirely prevented the asbestos fibre exposure.

It is not enough for companies to have asbestos surveys carried out, they must take the necessary action and telling the contractor you employ is an obvious first step.”

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