Asbestos fibres spread and left for three weeks by untrained workmen

In a prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) this week, Timberwise (UK) Ltd was found to have committed four offences, contrary to The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, and fined a total of £18,000 and ordered to pay £5,314 in costs.

Unqualified and untrained workmen spread potentially deadly asbestos fibres whilst working at an antiques shop at in High Street, Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan in July, 2011. This area was then left contaminated for three weeks leaving staff, workers and the general public at risk of inhalation of the hazardous substance.

Cardiff Magistrates heard that Timberwise (UK) Ltd sent employees to work on the site to survey and strip out parts of the building affected by damp and wood rot. Contrary to asbestos regulations, they implemented the work without checking for the presence of asbestos. It was heard that material, now known to be asbestos insulation board (A.I.B) was removed from a back room by one of the workers and the ceiling was demolished. The uncontrolled removal of the asbestos boards and demolition work caused the disturbance and spread of potentially deadly asbestos fibres.

Instead of arranging for the proper disposal of the asbestos, the dust was swept into rubble bags and dumped in a skip lorry, along with the asbestos insulation boards. The asbestos material was immediately identified at the waste transfer site and were collected by Timberwise and left in the backyard of the shop. The owners of the building contacted the HSE and then arranged for a licensed removal company to undertake a full environmental clean of the building, however the fibres released had by this point been airborne for three weeks.

In a prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) this week, Timberwise was found to have committed four offences and fined a total of £18,000 and ordered to pay £5,314 in costs. The offences were contrary to The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and they were fined the following amounts:

– Section 5 (duty to identify the presence of asbestos) £4,500
– Section 8 (work with a licensed asbestos material) £4,500
– Section 10 (duty to provide information, instruction and training) £4,500
– Section 16 (duty to prevent of reduce the spread of asbestos) £4,500

HSE Inspector, Steve Richardson, speaking after the case, said: “This incident was entirely preventable and would not have happened if Timberwise had provided adequate information, instruction and training to its staff.

The risks of the inhalation of asbestos fibres has become more and more documented over the years and the laws and regulations surrounding the management of asbestos reflect this seriousness. This case illustrates the need for staff to be trained to be asbestos aware and thus able to identify such material and know the correct procedures to deal with asbestos containing materials (ACM’s).

A refurbishment asbestos survey should always be implemented, prior to any works commencing, on buildings constructed prior to 2000 to identify ACM’s and this report provides recommendation n the type of contractor legally able to remove the asbestos. In addition, as stated in section 10 of the regulations, all staff whom are likely to come into contact with asbestos must be provided with the correct training. In this case, this is in the form of asbestos awareness. There are other asbestos relate training available, for example, works with non-licensed ACM’s and respiratory mask face fitting.

Armco provide all asbestos related training and surveying, as well as consultancy and advice. Please navigate this webpage for further details and/or contact the office for further details and a competitive quote – 0161 761 4424

Published Jun 14, 2012
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