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LOCAL WASTE TIP PROVIDES ASBESTOS RISK TIP OFF

Firm failed to follow through on asbestos suspicion

Columbus Building Contractors Ltd has been fined after workers and homeowners were exposed to asbestos containing material during work on a garage extension at a home in Ipswich.

Ipswich Magistrates heard (20 May) the company was engaged by the homeowners to carry out a single-storey front garage extension and a kitchen conversion to the property. The garage ceiling contained an asbestos insulating board (AIB) forming a fire break between the garage and the main house.

During the conversion work between 8 May and 2 August 2012, the boards were removed, broken up and left on the front lawn. The debris was placed into open bags before one of the homeowners transported it to a local tip in his car where the possibility of asbestos was identified.

The court was told a licensed contractor undertook waste removal of the remaining asbestos material and conducted an environmental clean under fully controlled conditions.

No effort to obtain an asbestos survey or take samples

Columbus Building Contractors Ltd, of Crofton Road, Ipswich, Suffolk, was fined a total of £10,000 and ordered to pay £6,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching regulations 8(1) and 11(1)(a) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Adam Hills said:

“This is an incident that was entirely preventable. Columbus Building Contractors had worked with this type of material before and had asbestos knowledge. They questioned the presence of asbestos materials in the ceiling but made no efforts to obtain an asbestos survey or take samples for analysis to establish if asbestos was contained within the ceiling.

After removal, the asbestos material was simply left on the front lawn before being bagged in open sacks and transported to the local tip by the homeowner. Both the workers and homeowner would have been exposed to a significant amount of asbestos fibres during these works.

It is absolutely essential that assumptions are not made when dealing with suspected asbestos materials. If in doubt, get it checked by a professional before starting any work.

The dangers of exposure are well-known in the industry. There are long-term health risks associated with inhalation of asbestos fibres including lung cancer and mesothelioma.”

 

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