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MAJOR CAR FIRM FAILED TO INFORM ABOUT ASBESTOS

Change of plan on refurbishment project did not trigger checks

General Motors UK Ltd has been fined £120,000 after work being undertaken at the company Ellesmere Port site in 2014 exposed contractors to risks associated with asbestos.

HSE investigators found that during refurbishment work in the paint unit suspected asbestos insulating boards (AIB) were discovered beneath external cladding.

Contractors carrying out the work had submitted a risk assessment and method statement for the work which was originally due to traverse a roof. When the location of the new pipework was changed to the side of the building the risk assessment was not reviewed. Subsequent sampling confirmed the presence of asbestos.

The company asbestos register was not fully available to the contractor to allow a check on whether the boards contained asbestos. No direct instruction was given by General Motors to the contractor to stop the work to prevent any AIB being disturbed.

The work, including the removal and cutting of holes in AIB board therefore continued without suitable precautions.

Asbestos claims 5,000 workers each year

Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard no assessment of the risk was undertaken by General Motors to determine if the work was notifiable or licensed asbestos work. On completion of the work licensed contractors were employed to conduct a clean-up and decontamination programme of the roof and in the stores.

General Motors UK Ltd, of Osborne Road, Luton, Bedfordshire, pleaded guilty to a single breach of Section 3 (1) the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £ 11,779 in prosecution costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Jane Carroll said:

“Asbestos kills around 5,000 workers each year; this is more than the number killed on UK roads. Asbestos can be present within any premises built or refurbished before the year 2000.

Whenever asbestos containing materials are found to be present, companies have a legal duty to document and implement an Asbestos Management Plan which includes measures to adequately control the risk of exposure to asbestos fibres.”

 

 

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