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    PUBLIC AND WORKERS EXPOSED TO ASBESTOS RISK

    Client and contractor failed to identify and assess asbestos presence

    Two companies have been fined after putting their workers,and members of the public at risk of exposure to asbestos fibres in August 2014.

    Leeds Crown Court heard how the shopfitting company was carrying out refurbishment works for a jewellery outlet, owned by Berens and Company Ltd, when asbestos containing materials (ACMs) were disturbed.

    When the contractor realised the disturbance they arranged for a licensed asbestos contractor to remove the ACMs under controlled conditions.

    During a routine HSE inspection of the licensed asbestos removal works being carried out, it was found that the plan of work for the notifiable asbestos removal works was not suitable.

    It was evident that more would need to be removed than what was originally planned. The licensed contractors agreed to stop work.

    Assessments of asbestos presence absent

    Further investigation by HSE found the client failed to provide the principal contractor with relevant information regarding the asbestos on-site and did not have a suitable refurbishment and demolition survey for the premises.

    A Prohibition Notice was served on the contractor who had failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment as to whether asbestos was present or was likely to be present in the premises.

    • Hallmark Design and Shopfitting Ltd – of Harden Beck Mill, Harden, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 of The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and has since been liquidated leading to a fine of £1.
    • Berens and Company Ltd – of Albion Street, Leeds pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £20,000 in costs.

    Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Jayne Towey said:

    “Asbestos still kills around 5,000 workers each year and any building built or refurbished before the year 2000 may contain asbestos.

    The companies in this case did not take account of the risks associated with the disturbance of asbestos and put not only their workers but also the general public at risk of inhaling fibres.”

     

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