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ASBESTOS TESTING FIRM FAILED TO FOLLOW OWN ADVICE

Laboratory prosecuted after putting own workforce at risk from asbestos

Exova (UK) Limited has been ordered to pay £44,000 following a complaint the company had not dealt with damaged asbestos at its site in Newcastle despite being recommended to do so on two previous occasions.

Newcastle Magistrates heard the company’s accredited asbestos testing branch carried out a survey of the premises in October 2008. Damaged asbestos was identified in two areas and the survey stated the damaged asbestos should be removed, repaired or sealed off. A further survey in February 2010 again stated the previously identified damaged asbestos was still there and repeated the earlier recommendation.

HSE visited the site on in July 2010 and found the recommendations of the two surveys had still not been implemented and employees were continuing to access and work in areas where damaged asbestos was present. 

Firm inexplicably chose to put employees at risk

Exova (UK) Limited, of Newbridge, Midlothian, was fined a total of £36,000 and ordered to pay £8,000 costs after it pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.

After the case, HSE inspector Andrew Woodhall, said:

“Exova (UK) Limited used its own internal, industry-accredited asbestos testing company to undertake surveys, but then failed to take the recommended action despite knowing their employees worked in at-risk areas.

Anyone who is responsible for non-domestic premises such as factories must take reasonable steps to find if there are materials containing asbestos in their premises and, if so, where it is and what condition it is in.

They’re then required to assess that risk, taking into account the current condition, the likelihood of deterioration or damage and who could be exposed to asbestos fibres. They should then prepare a plan on how they will manage the risks and take the necessary steps to put those plans into action.

Exova failed to take the majority of these steps and needlessly and inexplicably chose to put its employees at risk.”

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