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Sat October 31 2020

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Contractor fined after ignoring asbestos warnings

3 Aug 10 A Welsh building contractor carried out unlicensed asbestos removal despite being warned that materials it was handling contained the potentially dangerous substance.

A Welsh building contractor carried out unlicensed asbestos removal despite being warned that materials it was handling contained the potentially dangerous substance.

During a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution on 29 July, Caerphilly Magistrates' Court heard that Ron Couch Building Contractors was replacing a central heating boiler at a private property on the town's High Street.

Carpenters from the Griffithstown-based firm removed a cupboard door clad with asbestos insulation board (AIB) in order to take out the boiler.

A supervisor from a licensed contractor working in a nearby property approached the men when he saw the door outside and warned them of the presence of AIB.

The law states that any work involving AIB must be done by licensed contractors but the HSE investigation found workers were instructed by a senior manager to seal the walls of the cupboard with plasterboard.

At a hearing in Caerphilly Magistrates' Court, Ron Couch Building Contractors pleaded guilty to two charges under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. The company was fined a total of £2,500 and ordered to pay £1,250 costs.

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HSE inspector Steve Richardson said: "The company was well aware of its legal duties in terms of asbestos work as, prior to this incident, it carried out removal of the asbestos boiler flue in a safe manner using qualified personnel.

"AIB poses less of a risk if not damaged, but this work exposed the edges of the board increasing the risk of releasing asbestos fibres which could be inhaled by the workers and anyone else using the premises.

"This is one of the main reasons why this type of work must be carried out by a licensed contractor, and the work should have stopped as soon as the company was made aware it was AIB."

Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK.

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