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Birmingham firm fined for unsafe asbestos removal

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A decorating firm from Birmingham has been fined £5,000 after carrying out asbestos removal work without undertaking a proper site survey.

Intal Decorators Limited, of Rough Road, Birmingham, was charged with a breach of Regulation 5 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, after workers were exposed to asbestos fibres while removing insulation board from a community centre in Fillongley in March 2012.

The offence came to light when other tradesmen working on the refurbishment project realised there was a problem and the matter was reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Its investigation discovered that North Warwickshire Borough Council had carried out an asbestos survey at the site, but that it had failed to pass the findings on. Intal Decorators then made the situation worse by failing to check whether the insulation boards contained asbestos.

As a result, asbestos that should have been removed under controlled conditions by a licensed contractor was instead inadvertently spread around the community centre by the decorators.

At a hearing at Leamington Spa Magistrates’ Court on October 31st 2013, Intal Decorators pleaded guilty to removing asbestos-containing materials without carrying out an assessment and was fined £5,000.

North Warwickshire Borough Council also pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to provide sufficient information to its contractors about the presence of asbestos and was fined £10,000.

HSE Inspector Paul Cooper said the actions of the local council and of the decorating firm had led to tradesmen being exposed to harmful asbestos fibres.

He added: “Refurbishment and demolition work must be planned and carefully thought through, especially where asbestos may be present. It is reasonable to expect North Warwickshire Borough Council to have planned its work in such a way that workers were not put at risk of exposure to this deadly material.

“Intal Decorators Limited should have undertaken an assessment of the risks involved in its activities at the community centre and fulfilled its responsibilities as a contractor and employer to protect those on site.”

Click here to find out more about the safe removal of asbestos by licensed contractors.

Published: 7th November 2013