As a result of exposing his employees to asbestos fibres during a refurbishment of a social club in Northumberland, an employer has been fined by Mid and South East Northumberland Magistrates’ Court.
The court heard how on purchasing the club, the failure to carry out an asbestos survey resulted in the presence of Asbestos Insulating Board (AIB) within the Excelsior Social Club building not being identified.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the removal of asbestos was conducted in an uncontrolled manner and without using a licenced asbestos removal contractor.
In addition to the fines and costs imposed by the court, a payment of £36,000 was ordered for the subsequent safe removal of the asbestos waste by a licenced asbestos removal contractor.
Why asbestos is dangerous:
According to the HSE website, Asbestos still kills around 5000 workers each year, this is more than the number of people killed on the road. When materials that contain asbestos are disturbed or damaged, fibres are released into the air. When these fibres are inhaled they can cause serious diseases. These diseases will not affect you immediately; they often take a long time to develop, e.g. Mesothelioma, Asbestos-related lung cancer, Asbestosis and Asbestosis.
Ways to limit exposure to prosecution:
- Ensure that an asbestos survey is carried out on all buildings that are built or refurbished before the year 2000.
- The asbestos survey must be conducted by a competent contractor.
- All significant findings need to be actioned by a competent contractor.
- If asbestos is to be removed, it needs to be conducted in a controlled manner by a licensed asbestos removal contractor with the relevant risk assessment to be complied with.
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