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ASBESTOS MANAGEMENT EXPOSED BY VISITING CONTRACTOR

Building owner and letting agent failed to follow through asbestos assessment

Hazelwise Ltd and RH Property Management Ltd have been ordered to pay some £75,000 in fines and prosecution costs after workers were exposed to asbestos fibres at a Bolton mill in October 2010. The companies failed to put a plan in place to manage the asbestos in the mill where several small businesses rent units.

A contractor on the site informed HSE that asbestos insulation boards had been stripped out of unoccupied floors at the mill thereby releasing asbestos fibres.

When HSE Inspectors visited Prohibition Notices were issued banning the removal of tools and other items from four floors of the mill in case they had become contaminated with asbestos fibres, and preventing access to the floors. Asbestos was found in other parts of the mill, occupied by tenants, but nothing had been done to protect it and make sure it was safe.

Letting agent, RH Property Management Ltd, identified the lack of an asbestos assessment in 2006 but did not take action. The owner of the mill, Hazelwise Ltd, also failed to arrange for an asbestos survey to be carried out.

Assessments must be carried out on commercial properties

Hazelwise Ltd, of Chorlton, was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £8,969 in prosecution costs. RH Property Management Ltd, of Stockport, was fined £15,000 and with costs of £11,011.

Both companies pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for failing to ensure the health and safety of people at the mill. Hazelwise also admitted a breach of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 by failing to properly assess the risks from asbestos at the site.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Philip Strickland said:

“Workers at Brownlow Mill have been exposed to potentially deadly fibres because neither company did anything to find out where asbestos was on the site.

It is a legal requirement for owners and letting agents of commercial properties to carry out an assessment as to whether asbestos is present in a building, and what action is needed to keep it safe.

If employers don’t take the risks from asbestos seriously, then thousands of people will continue to die in the UK every year as a result of breathing in asbestos fibres.”

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