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VALVE MAINTENANCE EXPOSED ASBESTOS IN GASKET

Firm fined £300k over deficient asbestos records and awareness training

The operator of a natural gas storage facility has been sentenced today after 13 employees and contractors were exposed to asbestos fibres.

Beverley Magistrates heard that a team of three mechanical maintenance personnel were tasked with the removal of a non-return valve from a compressed air distribution system. Some of the sealing gasket material was difficult to remove so they used a wire brush mounted on an electric drill to remove the gasket material which spread fibres from the gasket around the maintenance workshop onto floors, work benches and clothing.

******* ILLUSTRATION FROM HSE WEBSITE *******

Two days later another employee became suspicious of the fibrous dust and sampling revealed that the dust contained chrysotile (white) asbestos fibres. The maintenance workshop was later closed to prevent access by employees and contractors.

Failure to manage asbestos risk

The prosecution told the court that the company had failed to identify in the risk assessment for this job that there were asbestos gaskets attached to the non-return valve.

HSE revealed that records held on site were inadequate and the maintenance team leader involved in this task had not undertaken asbestos awareness training.

  • SSE Hornsea Ltd – of Dunkeld Road, Perth pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2 (1) and 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc, Act 1974.

The company was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,731.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Paul Miller said:

“The company substantially failed to manage the risks associated with asbestos found within their process plant and have needlessly risked the future health of 13 people. Employers should ensure that they have in place adequate arrangements for both the identification and management of asbestos which may be found in buildings or process plant.

The HSE Go Home Healthy campaign aims to prevent work-related lung disease by ensuring employers and workers have the information they need to work right.”

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