The Health and Safety Executive has warned firms to properly assess risks when working with asbestos and ensure, if necessary, only licensed contractors are used. The call follows the prosecution of Westpoint Schoolcare Ltd.brought under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. The firm was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay costs of £515 after pleading guilty to failing to properly assess whether asbestos was present before starting refurbishment work at a Manchester school. The company also failed to take the necessary steps to prevent its employees being exposed to asbestos dust and undertook licensable work without holding a licence.
The company was appointed to complete refurbishment works at a Junior School. The school provided information from their asbestos register clearly identifying that the ceiling tiles contained 5 to 50 percent Amosite (Brown Asbestos). However, the company did not properly act on this information and failed to instruct their employees on the presence of asbestos or how to work without disturbing the asbestos ceiling tiles. The ceiling was removed despite Westpoint Schoolcare Ltd not holding a licence to do such work and without taking any of the necessary precautions as required by the Control of Asbestos Regulations Act 2006.
HSE inspector Thomas Merry said: "Westpoint were given the necessary information about the presence of asbestos in the area of the school in which they were working. They had ample opportunity to ensure that the ceiling was not disturbed, and arrange for a competent licensed contractor to remove the asbestos in a safe, controlled manner. Unfortunately this was not done and an employee of the company was needlessly exposed to asbestos fibres."
Today asbestos still presents a real and relevant risk to workers involved in refurbishment and minor construction as it may be present in any building constructed or refurbished before the year 2000. It is estimated that around 500,000 non-domestic buildings could contain asbestos and these buildings all need repair and maintenance work from time to time but when the asbestos fibres are disturbed, for example by drilling or cutting, they are likely to be inhaled as a deadly dust.Quelle: Health and Safety Executive (HSE)