Tradesman fined for asbestos fibre release during refurbishment of property

After exposing himself and a tennant to medium risk asbestos fibres after misidentifying asbestos insulation board as asbestos cement, a tradesman as potentially endangered lives and incurred a large fine. Here at Armco Asbestos Consultants we educate tradesmen in identifying and dealing with asbestos, and can also implement various surveys to ensure correct identification occurs.

A Birmingham handyman has been prosecuted after endangering lives by releasing asbestos fibres while refurbishing a kitchen at a flat in Solihull, Birmingham. Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the carpenter/general handyman had removed partition walls containing asbestos insulating board (A.I.B) at the premises in January 2011. In his defence, the tradesman stated that had wrongly assumed he was dealing with asbestos cement, which requires competent contractors as opposed to licensed contractors to remove it, and went ahead with the job. As a result, both he and the tenant were potentially exposed to asbestos dust which is potentially life-threatening.

The court heard that the defendant spread asbestos debris in the kitchen and on the communal stairs, and the removed pieces of asbestos insulating board were loaded into his car. By law it should have been disposed of by a licensed contractor with a waste carriers license. The incident was discovered when a licensed asbestos removal contractor, who was working elsewhere in the building, spotted pieces of asbestos outside and alerted HSE. The court heard the area and the defendants car had to be decontaminated. The defendanct pleaded guilty today to breaching Regulation 5 and Regulation 11(1)(a) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. He was fined £600 and ordered to pay £1,799 costs.

Asbestos is the biggest single cause of occupational deaths in the UK, with an estimated 4,000 people dying every year from related diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. There are many types of tradesman, like builders, electricians, plumbers etc, whom are likely to come into contact with asbestos and their employers are legally required to ensure that they are asbestos aware. As you can see from this case, the HSE take asbestos very seriously and ignorance is not taken as a valid reason for misidentifying the different types of asbestos containing materials (ACM’s).

Here at Armco Asbestos Consultants we offer an asbestos removal service for all types of ACM’s ranging from non-licensed floor tiles to the higher risk A.I.B and pipe lagging which require a special license. All removals undertaken by Armco adhere to the asbestos health and safety regulations and are carried out under fully controlled conditions. In addition, we can undertake surveys of properties both to manage asbestos and identify asbestos before refurbishment or demolition takes place. Had such a survey been commissioned in the case described here, the tradesman would avoid potentially damaging his own and the tenant’s health, and the costly fine he has now incurred.

Armco offers a various training courses. The ½ Asbestos Awareness training session would educate tradesmen so that situations as described above are less likely to happen. Attendees on the course are taught: the history of asbestos; the properties of asbestos and its effects on health; the types, uses and likely occurrence of asbestos in buildings and plant; what asbestos looks like; and the general procedures to be followed to deal with an emergency.

We also provide Works With Non-Licensed ACM’s training session is made up of the Asbestos Awareness ½ day session in the morning and followed by an afternoon session of working with ACM’s. Point covered include how to make suitable and sufficient assessments of the risk of exposure to asbestos; the control limit, the appropriate choice and use of respiratory and personal protective equipment, decontamination procedures, work which requires an HSE license, ·emergency procedures and waste handling procedures. Once an employee is trained to this standard they would be considered a competent contractor and therefore could undertake remedial works with non-licensed materials, thus saving your company money as no sub-contractors would need to be brought in for such works.

Armco’s training sessions are held by fully qualified and time-served surveyors whom deliver the class as an oral presentation with power point slides and written material. The candidates are presented with a certificate which lasts a year and Armco also provides the necessary yearly refresher training session. Please note that we also offer a respiratory mask face fitting service.

Please contact the office for a competitive quote for any of your asbestos needs on 0161 763 3727 or email info@armco.org.uk

Published Dec 02, 2011
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