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Ignoring asbestos risks on refurbishment projects ‘absolutely inexcusable’

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Failure to adequately protect workers from asbestos risks during refurbishment projects will not be tolerated, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned construction companies.

The reminder came after an Essex construction firm was fined £50,000 for breaching asbestos regulations in a manner that the HSE labelled “absolutely inexcusable”.

In July 2012, Marden Homes Ltd began work on a job to convert an office block in Witham, Essex into residential flats; a project that involved removing a boiler and associated pipework from the plant room.

The pipework’s lagging contained asbestos which was disturbed during the removal, meaning workers were exposed to potentially deadly fibres.

A subsequent HSE investigation discovered that no refurbishment and demolition asbestos survey was made available to site workers, so they were unable to plan how best to deal with the presence of the substance.

Inspectors also found that one of the workers had not received any asbestos awareness training, so could not identify whether or not asbestos containing materials were present.

Marden Homes Ltd, of Westcliff on Sea, pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court this week and was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £1,413 in costs.

HSE inspector David King said construction companies could have no excuses for failing to safeguard workers and the public from asbestos risks, as guidance was freely available and industry-specific regulations governing working with asbestos were first introduced more than 40 years ago.

“Therefore failing to take action to identify the location and type of asbestos present during planning of the work, not communicating that information to workers/contractors who may disturb the asbestos and then not taking appropriate measures to protect the health of those exposed is absolutely inexcusable,” he added.

BLS Asbestos has vast experience of working on refurbishment projects, both providing surveys and undertaking licensed asbestos removal jobs. For more information about our services for the refurbishment sector, please contact us via the website or by calling 01484 400558.

Published: 11th June 2015