Asbestos workers allowed to enter ‘dirty’ area without RPE and PPE
A supervisor of asbestos work has been fined after workers under his supervision were exposed to asbestos fibres at a college in Greater Manchester.
Steven Kelly was prosecuted by HSE after three men were spotted without suitable protective clothing in an area of Trafford College in Stretford where asbestos was being removed.
Trafford Magistrates heard (11 October 2013) that Manchester-based firm Winsulate UK Limited were engaged to carry out asbestos removal work during a refurbishment project at the college. Mr Kelly, 41, from Merseyside, was the supervisor on the project when he ignored the company procedures on working with asbestos.
HSE inspectors carried out an unannounced visit to the college on 12 December 2012 where they witnessed three workers in the area of the college where asbestos was being removed without suitable protective clothing or masks.
Mr Kelly sent the men into the undercroft beneath the classrooms (sealed off from the rest of the building) to fix the temporary lighting. The men were:
- wearing their own clothes instead of disposable clothing under their overalls, and half masks instead of full-face respiratory masks; and
- wearing lace-up instead of wellington boots which meant asbestos fibres could stick to their laces or get inside their boots.
This led to them being put at risk of breathing in asbestos fibres and fibres could have remained on their clothes when they went home to their families in the evening.
Defendant fully-trained and qualified supervisor in licensed asbestos removal
Mr Kelly, of Burwell Close in Kirkby, was fined £790 and ordered to pay costs of £250 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to take reasonable care of workers under his supervision.
Mr Kelly is a fully-trained and qualified supervisor in licensed asbestos removal yet several other issues were also discovered on the site. including : insufficient water for workers to properly sponge down boots and masks to stop fibres becoming airborne; used clothing discarded inside the enclosure, and a failure to carry out daily checks on masks.
“Asbestos is responsible for thousands of deaths in the UK every year but it only becomes dangerous when it is broken up and fibres are released into the air.
That’s why asbestos can only be removed by specialist contractors but, as the site supervisor, Steven Kelly put workers at risk by not following the correct safety procedures.
He simply should never have allowed three men to go into a contaminated area while wearing their own clothes, and without the correct protective clothing and respiratory masks.
Workers, their families and anyone else who came into contact with them would have been put at risk as a result of Mr Kelly allowing the men to wear lace-up boots and the clothes they intended to go home in.
Thankfully, we were able to stop the work and make sure the clothes were disposed of as contaminated waste.”