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REFURB FIRM FINED HEAVILY OVER ASBESTOS DANGER

AIB ceiling removed without suitable survey and assessment caused serious risk

MJC Decorating and Refurbishing Ltd has been ordered to pay over £80,000 in fines and prosecution costs after employees, agency staff and members of the public were exposed to asbestos during a refurbishment project at offices in Poole in 2009.

Bournemouth Crown Court heard that the firm removed ceilings at the two-story block without carrying out a suitable survey in advance to determine whether asbestos was present.

Removal of asbestos insulation board ceilings took place over two weeks with those undertaking the work wearing normal work clothes that became contaminated with asbestos fibres. This may have led to the exposure of many more members of the public during their journey to and from the site over this two week period.

A visit by HSE revealed widespread contamination and spread of asbestos both inside and outside the building and that some material removed from the site as non-hazardous may have included asbestos-containing materials. Four employees and 14 agency staff working under the control of MJC were exposed to asbestos.

Serious incident with severe risks for health

MJC Decorating and Refurbishing Ltd, of Surrey pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and was fined £45,000 and ordered to pay £36,943 in prosecution costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector, Helena Tinton, said:

“This was a very serious incident which carries severe risks for people’s health.

MJC’s safety failings led to the needless exposure to dangerous asbestos fibres of its employees, agency staff and the wider public. The firm didn’t carry out a suitable survey for asbestos material before the work started and failed to provide protection for workers on site.

Regulations on dealing safely with asbestos have been in place for many years and are widely known in the industry. This totally needless incident would not have happened if MJC had carried out proper assessments and had trained staff on site.”

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