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ASBESTOS SURVEYORS PROSECUTED OVER REPORT FLAWS

Surveyors missed ‘unhidden’ and ‘easily spotted’ ACMs

Two asbestos surveyors have appeared in court after construction workers were exposed to fibres during the refurbishment of premises in Manchester. David Harold and Shaun Hodgson were prosecuted after they failed to identify the presence of asbestos at 32 different locations in the former hotel.

Trafford Magistrates heard (21 December 2012) that the men were hired to carry out a full asbestos survey ahead of a major refurbishment project. A report was produced following a visit to the site on 31 May 2011 and the report was used by the principal contractor to identify which areas were safe to refurbish and those which required a licensed asbestos removal company.

The report failed to identify large amounts of asbestos in the basement leading to workers being exposed to fibres as they carried out refurbishment work, installed pipes and fitted cabling. The asbestos insulation material was not hidden, and was easily spotted in the second survey.

The company overseeing the project stopped the refurbishment work and brought in a specialist firm when an employee raised concerns.

Hard to understand how so much asbestos missed

David Harold, of Beverley, East Yorkshire, and Shaun Hodgson, of Newton upon Derwent, York, each pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 after they put the health of workers at risk.

They were each ordered to carry out 40 hours of community service in the next year and to each pay £1,500 towards the cost of the prosecution.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Matt Greenly said:

“Asbestos consultants and surveyors perform a vitally important role in the construction industry and are relied on to keep workers safe. Construction companies trust their expert opinions to help prevent workers from being exposed to asbestos fibres. It’s therefore essential that they do not take their minds off the job when carrying out asbestos surveys.

Sadly Mr Harold and Mr Hodgson’s work fell way below acceptable standards, despite them being well trained and seemingly experienced asbestos surveyors. It is hard to understand how they could have missed so much asbestos material during their survey when it was so plainly obvious to others.”

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