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WORKERS AND CLIENT EXPOSED TO ASBESTOS RISKS

Contractor failed to commission asbestos survey despite warning

Roofing contractor David Cummings (t/a Cummings Flat Roofing) has been fined after workmen and home owners were exposed to asbestos at a domestic property in Suffolk in August 2014. During the re-roofing work employees disturbed asbestos insulation board (AIB) as they were removing the underside of a  porch canopy.

Ipswich Magistrates heard that Mr Cummings failed to arranged a Refurbishment and Demolition Survey to determine if asbestos was present, and if so the type of asbestos despite the homeowner advising Mr. Cummings that he believed his porch contained asbestos.

Employees were therefore unaware of the presence of AIB before starting work and the homeowners and workers were potentially exposed to asbestos fibres.

The AIB was not removed in an appropriate manner thereby causing a significant amount of breakage to the board. The garden was heavily contaminated and in the absence of controlled access asbestos was liable to have been carried in the family home.

Contractors must prevent the disturbance, spread and exposure

Mr. Cummings, of Kesgrave, Ipswich, was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £1,200 in costs plus a victim surcharge of £120 after pleading guilty to three breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector David King said:

“Exposure to asbestos fibres is a serious and well know health risk, so it is essential that duty-holders take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent the disturbance, spread and exposure to asbestos.

Guidance on managing the risks of asbestos is widely and freely available. Asbestos has been subject to regulations since 1931, and relevant to the construction industry since 1969.

Therefore failing to take action to identify asbestos while planning work, to ensure contractor who may disturb asbestos are aware of the location and type of asbestos present and take appropriate measures to protect the health of others is absolutely not excusable.”

Around 4,500 people die every year as a result of breathing in asbestos fibres, making it the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK. Airborne fibres can become lodged in the lungs and digestive tract, and can lead to lung cancer or other diseases, but symptoms may not appear for several decades.

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