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A utilities company based in Paisley, Scotland, IQA Operations Group Ltd, has received a fine for having exposed four employees to asbestos.
The employees were exposed in 2014 while working at Anderson Tower block in Motherwell.
On 7th November 2017 at Hamilton Sheriff Court, the court heard how four electricians from the company had been drilling through transom panels above each door to fit electric cables into each property.
This work was being carried out as part of a new low voltage distribution system.
An asbestos survey had been carried out before the works commenced, but the surveyed areas didn’t include the transom panels above the external doors to the flats.
Holes were drilled into the panels of all flats by the electricians.
They were completely unaware that the panels contained asbestos.
As a consequence, the asbestos fibers will have become airbourne.
It was a resident of the tower block that contacted authorities with concerns that the panels may contain asbestos.
Only then was the work stopped while tests were carried out.
The testing revealed that the panels did in fact contain asbestos material.
This meant residents had to vacate their homes while a cleanup operation took place.
The HSE carried out their own investigation and found IQA Operations Group Ltd to be in breach of health and safety regulations.
They had failed to protect their own employees and residents of the tower block while carrying out the cabling works.
IQA Operations Group Ltd were fined a total of £6000 after they plead guilty to a breach of the Health & Safety at work act of 1974.
HM inspector of health and safety, Gerry Muir said afterwards, “This incident could have easily been avoided if the company had in place a system of work to ensure that the asbestos survey it requested to be carried out covered all of the intended work areas. Failing to do this resulted in 44 asbestos panels being drilled into with no measures in place to control the risk of exposure to the resultant asbestos fibers.”
Duty holders and employers have a legal responsibility to manage asbestos in their building so as not to put employees at risk. Contact our Armco office for asbestos management and refurbishment/ demolition surveys on 0161 763 3727 or by visiting https://www.armco.org.uk/
Alternatively, to book onto one of our asbestos training courses, please call 0161 761 4424 or visit https://www.armcoasbestostraining.co.uk/