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CLADDING FIRM ERRS WITH ASBESTOS & FALL OFFENCES

Roof level AIB removed without license and fall protection

LJW Cladding Ltd has been fined after removing asbestos insulation board (AIB) without a licence and using a method of work which exposed workers to 4m falls on a building in Waltham, Essex in February 2014,

Chelmsford Magistrates heard that HSE was alerted by a member of the public concerned that unsafe work was being undertaken. HSE investigators found the company did not hold a licence to remove asbestos, despite telling the building owner that it “held the necessary approvals”.

Those carrying out the work were not trained to work with such asbestos containing materials and faced the danger of falling from height whilst removing the fragile AIB.

HSE found that the work was carried out with “woefully lacking in safety measures” namely:

  • Work methods – inadequate attempts to prevent release of fibres;
  • Enclosure – no use of an enclosure; and
  • RPE – offered insufficient protection.

A full three-stage decontamination unit was needed although the workers merely had access to baby wipes and a cold water hose. Contaminated overalls over normal clothing continued to be worn during rest breaks and asbestos contamination was “taken home” on clothing.

The risk of falling was created by absent or inadequately installed safety netting and a fall arrest system being used inappropriately.

Failed to provide effective safeguards

LJW Cladding Ltd of Ipswich, Suffolk, was fined a total of £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3365.50 plus a £120 victim surcharge after pleading guilty to separate breaches of the Work at Height Regulations and the Control of Asbestos Regulations.

After the hearing, HSE Principal Inspector Dominic Elliss said:

“LJW Cladding’s incompetent actions led to its employees being potentially exposed to asbestos fibres at a much higher level than would have been possible had a competent licensed contractor been used.

In addition there was a serious risk one of them could fall from or through the fragile roof because of the firm failed to provide effective safeguards. Too many workers continue to be seriously injured from falls in exactly this type of refurbishment project.”

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