Asbestos removal contractor fined after Kenilworth job
A LICENSED asbestos removal contractor has been fined for putting its workers at risk of exposure to the dangerous substance during a refurbishment project in Kenilworth.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted AG&M Ltd for failing to properly maintain a decontamination unit and respiratory masks, and for failing to have a trained supervisor at the former Budgens store, now Wilkinsons, in Station Road.
Nuneaton Magistrates’ Court heard that an inspector from HSE visited the site on January 20 last year and found the unit, which was essential to allow workers to clean themselves thoroughly after removing asbestos from the building, was substandard.
Of most concern was that the shower could not be used because the water in the hosepipe which supplied it had frozen. Daily inspection records of the unit had not been completed so the company had also failed to identify a damaged vent, a broken door hinge and the shower compartment door not closing properly.
The court heard that two men, who were removing ceiling tiles containing amosite, or brown asbestos, from the building when the inspector visited, would not have realised there was no water supply until they were in the shower compartment. They would not have been able to clean themselves until the water in the pipe had defrosted, which would have increased the risk of exposure and spread of asbestos. AG&M Ltd, of Stocks Hill, Ecclesfield, Sheffield, was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £5,349 costs.
After the hearing, HSE principal inspector Jo Anderson said: “AG&M’s failure to maintain the unit meant that if we had not drawn this to their attention, two men would have been unable to shower, which is the final and most important stage of decontamination, until the ice had melted.
“It is unacceptable to allow such failings. As a licensed asbestos removal contractor, the company was fully aware of its responsibilities to ensure the safety and welfare of its workers. Licensed contractors are required to achieve the highest standards of control to prevent exposure and spread.
“People who work with asbestos must be able to clean themselves properly to prevent exposure to such a potentially dangerous substance.
“It is also essential to have a trained and competent supervisor on site at all times to pick up on and resolve such issues before anyone is put at risk.”
Asbestos is the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK, with an estimated 4,000 people dying every year from lung diseases such as mesothelioma.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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