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PRINCIPAL CONTRACTOR FINED OVER ASBESTOS ERRORS

HSE inspection revealed PC lacked asbestos survey information

Superior Plumbing Installations Ltd has been prosecuted after work which may have led to two workers being exposed to asbestos fibres during a major refurbishment project on flats in Aberystwyth between November 2010 and February 2011.

Aberystwyth Magistrates heard (10 Dec) that a routine HSE inspection found contractors carrying out refurbishment work without taking account of asbestos that may have been present. Some 82 metres of cement board (which a survey had identified as ‘presumed to contain asbestos’) was removed by breaking it up with a hammer and shovelling it into a wheelbarrow before putting it in a general waste skip.

The contractor was due to undertake the same work one other property on which the presence of asbestos had been confirmed in the soffits. No effort had been made to obtain asbestos surveys that existed for the properties or assess the risk of working with asbestos on the site. The firm also failed to make a plan to properly deal with asbestos removal. 

The site manager for the scheme had not received asbestos awareness training.

Contractors must ensure asbestos survey carried out

Superior Plumbing Installations Ltd, of Swindon, pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £3,830 in costs.

HSE Inspector Phil Nicolle, speaking after the hearing, said:

“Superior Plumbing’s failure to follow advice, guidance and their own procedures to identify the presence of asbestos and plan for its safe removal has needlessly created a serious long term risk to workers’ health.

Contractors must ensure an asbestos survey has been carried out where a building – or part of it – needs upgrading, refurbishment or demolition.

The survey must locate and identify all asbestos-containing material before any structural work begins and appropriate arrangements put in place to deal with any asbestos containing materials that are uncovered.

Around 4,000 people die every year as a result of breathing-in asbestos fibres, making it the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK.”

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