Lack of assessment exposed workers and others to AIB
Geoff Thomas and Son Ltd has been prosecuted after two employees were exposed to asbestos dust whilst working at a residential property in Bath in January 2013.
The workmen were demolishing a basement ceiling which had not been adequately checked for the presence of asbestos. The workers were subsequently put to work on other jobs without decontaminating their clothes.
The court heard that Geoff Thomas and Son had been contracted by a community Housing Trust to replace the ceiling using hand tools to pull down parts of the ceiling comprising asbestos insulation board (AIB).
When the ceiling was suspected that it might contain asbestos the workmen were dispatched to other jobs without decontaminating their clothes or tools. It was later found the ceiling did contain asbestos.
HSE found the contractor failed to make suitable and sufficient assessment for the presence of asbestos before work started and failed to prevent its spread.
Full survey of area should have been carried out
Geoff Thomas and Son Ltd of Peasedown St John, Bath pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and was fined a total of £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £637.
HSE Inspector Paul Newton, speaking after the hearing, said:
“The long-term effects of exposure to asbestos materials is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK and the exposure of these two workers to this dangerous substance was entirely preventable.
It was clear the work would disturb the fabric of the building, creating a risk of exposing asbestos, so a full survey of the area should have been carried out before work started and suitable plans put in place to deal with it.
Geoff Thomas and Son then compounded the problem by failing to decontaminate the workers, their clothes and equipment. Instead they were allowed to go to other jobs and return home, potentially spreading the asbestos to their workmates and families.
The removal of high-risk, asbestos-containing materials should only be done by a licensed contractor.”