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    MASSIVE FINE FOR LICENSED ASBESTOS CONTRACTOR

    Asbestos sprayed coating removed without proper dust controls

    Angus Group Ltd, a specialist asbestos removal company, has been fined after workers were exposed to asbestos fibres during demolition of a former school building in Lincoln during March 2012. The company was contracted to carry out asbestos removal work on behalf of the project demolition contractors.

    An asbestos survey identified areas in the building containing asbestos, with recommendations on safe removal. The survey found areas of spray-applied asbestos coating which should be removed by a licensed contractor under safe, controlled conditions.

    However, these recommendations were “ignored” and asbestos spray coating on the main hall walls was chiselled off using power tools without screens, enclosures or air extraction systems in place. Asbestos-containing material was bagged and carried to a skip outside.

    Angus Group Ltd notified the main contractors that the asbestos removal work on the main hall was finished. When the project agents and main contractors visited the following day they found the hall covered in dust and patches of asbestos material still on the wall.

    Fifteen of the 17 samples taken in and around the hall proved positive for asbestos. A later analysis, which included other parts of the building, found asbestos fibres in 15 of 34 samples, indicating asbestos had spread throughout the building.

    Catalogue of failings

    HSE found a catalogue of failings in the way the work had been planned and carried out:

    • exact location of asbestos material was not identified;
    • risk assessments were too generic;
    • enclosures, segregation and containment measures were inadequate;
    • plans lacked detail;
    • access and transit routes through the buildings were not clear;
    • employees lacked specific instruction; and
    • there was no reference to the original asbestos survey in the plan.

    HSE experts concluded the company’s safeguards to control the asbestos risks were seriously inadequate leading to an unnecessary release and spread of dangerous asbestos fibres and dust.

    Deplorable action by company which knows better

    Angus Group Ltd of Neilson Road, Paisley, Scotland, was found guilty of eight breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006, and was fined a total of £109,000 and ordered to pay a further £42,100 in costs.

    Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Martin Giles said:

    “Building owners and contractors have a duty to ensure they protect their workers, and any site personnel, from the well-known dangers of exposure to asbestos.

    Angus Group Ltd is an experienced licensed contractor, and was fully aware of all the hazards and all its responsibilities to ensure safety at all times.

    It is deplorable a company that does know better failed to properly manage the dangers of this hidden killer.”

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