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REFURB FIRM AND LOCAL COUNCIL FINED OVER ASBESTOS

Dust from asbestos ceiling tile removal spread throughout building

Birmingham City Council and contractor Solihull Supplies Ltd have been prosecuted after three men were exposed to asbestos during refurb work on a school.

Solihull Supplies Ltd was contracted by the council to refurbish the reception area at William Cowper Community Primary School, Newtown, Birmingham. The company sub-contracted another firm to remove ceiling tiles at the school without carrying out a proper risk assessment.

Magistrates heard that on 24 July 2009 two workers were tasked to remove tiles from seven rooms being refurbished. However, the tiles contained brown asbestos and the work lasted several hours, exposing both workers and the school caretaker to asbestos. 

The men used an ordinary vacuum cleaner which would have spread fibres into the air. The subcontracted firm did not possess a licence to undertake work with asbestos and lacked the knowledge of how to deal with the material. Employees had received no training in dealing with asbestos.

“Simply unacceptable” for such incidents to be taking place

Birmingham City Council, of Victoria Square, Birmingham, pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £1,091 costs.

Solihull Supplies Ltd, of Lodge Road, Knowle, Solihull, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6(1)(a) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and was fined £1,750 and ordered to pay £1,091 costs.

HSE Principal Inspector Jo Anderson said after the hearing:

“Because of the failing of the council and the firms involved, three people now have to live with the knowledge they may become ill from lung disease in the future.

The long term health risks associated with exposure to asbestos dust are well known and it is simply unacceptable for incidents such as this to still be taking place.

This was an entirely preventable incident which could have been avoided if those involved had assessed the situation properly and taken the necessary precautions.”

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