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Asbestos safety breaches earn building contractor £5k fine

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A building contractor has been fined £5,000 after its failure to carry out an asbestos survey resulted in two workers being exposed to potentially-dangerous asbestos dust.

Geoff Thomas and Son Ltd of Bath pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 in relation to an incident at a property in the city in January 2013.

Bath Magistrates heard that no checks were carried out to identify whether asbestos was present in the house before two workmen began the job of pulling down a basement ceiling using only hand tools.

Parts of the ceiling were made of asbestos insulation board and although the company realised its error and removed the employees from the site, it sent them to another job without ensuring they decontaminated their clothes and tools.

A subsequent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the company, which was not licensed to handle asbestos, had failed to carry out the required safety assessment, notify the relevant authorities in advance of carrying out the work and prevent the spread of asbestos.

 Removal of asbestos insulation board should be carried out by a trained contractor.

Speaking after Geoff Thomas and Son Ltd was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £637 in costs, HSE inspector Paul Newton said the company could easily have prevented the workers being exposed to asbestos if it had followed the correct procedures.

“It was clear the work would disturb the fabric of the building, creating a risk of exposing asbestos, so a full survey of the area should have been carried out before work started and suitable plans put in place to deal with it,” he said.

“Geoff Thomas and Son then compounded the problem by failing to decontaminate the workers, their clothes and equipment once the asbestos had been identified. Instead they were allowed to go to other jobs and return home, potentially spreading the asbestos to their workmates and families.”

Mr Newton added that most asbestos removal should only be carried out by a licensed asbestos contractor.

To find out more about safe asbestos removal and site surveys, please contact BLS Asbestos.

Published: 20th March 2014