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    CONTRACTORS CAUSE ASBESTOS RISK AT NAVAL BASE

    Refurbishment project lacked reliable information on asbestos

    Main contractor, VT Flagship Ltd, and contractor PPSL District Energy Limited, have been prosecuted after workers and Royal Navy personnel were exposed to asbestos. 

    Pipes lined with asbestos were left on the roadside before being placed in an open skip and transferred to a salvage yard. The pipes were removed from a naval training base in Gosport in September 2009 as part of works to replace a hot water system. PPSL employed a local welding firm and pipe fitter to undertake the work.

    Magistrates heard that the salvage firm contacted HSE after discovering their premises were contaminated with asbestos from the pipes. HSE investigators found that both VT Flagship and PPSL failed to identify the presence of asbestos in the pipes as a result of inaccurate assumptions and failures to undertake thorough checks and surveys. 

    The company staff, salvage yard workers, welder, pipe fitter and navy personnel could all be deemed ‘at risk’. The insulation material should have been properly identified and safely removed and disposed of by a licensed asbestos removal specialist.

    Assumed no asbestos without proper checks and hard evidence

    PPSL District Energy Limited, of Berkhamstead, Herts, was fined a total of £18,000 and ordered to pay £4,291 in costs after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.

    • Regulation 5(a) – failing to carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment and
    • Regulation 11(1)(a) – failing to prevent the exposure to asbestos

    VT Flagship Ltd, of Southampton, was fined £12,000 with costs of £5,196 after also pleading guilty to a single breach of the same legislation.

    After the hearing HSE Inspector Adam Wycherley said:

    “Before anyone undertakes any demolition or refurbishment works they must take appropriate steps to ensure they have reliable information regarding the materials they are dealing with, an essential requirement that is specifically in place to identify the presence of asbestos.

    VT Flagship and PPSL District Energy both failed in this regard. They wrongly assumed there was no asbestos without carrying out proper checks to back that up with hard evidence.

    As a result a number of workers for several different companies, as well as passing Navy personnel, were put at unnecessary risk. Anyone walking past the pipes could have inhaled fibres as they became airborne, and they posed a major contamination hazard.

    Thousands of people die every year as a result of asbestos-related disease, and duty holders cannot afford to take any chances or make assumptions.”

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