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Fri December 04 2020

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Asbestos expert put his team in danger

14 Oct 13 A qualified asbestos specialist has been fined after he disregarded safety procedures and allowed his crew to be exposed to deadly fibres at a college in Greater Manchester.

Steven Kelly was prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) after three men were spotted without suitable protective clothing in an area of Trafford College in Stretford where asbestos was being removed.

Trafford Magistrates’ Court in Sale heard on Friday (11 October 2013) that Manchester-based firm Winsulate had been hired to carry out asbestos removal work during a refurbishment project at the college.

Mr Kelly was the supervisor on the project but he ignored the company’s procedures on working with asbestos, and flouted safety laws.

HSE inspectors carried out an unannounced visit to the college on 12 December 2012 and saw three workers in the area where asbestos was being removed not wearing protective clothing or masks.

The inspectors discovered Mr Kelly had sent the men into the undercroft beneath the classrooms, which had been sealed off from the rest of the building, to fix the temporary lighting. They were wearing their own clothes instead of disposable clothing under their overalls, and half masks instead of full-face respiratory masks.

The men were also wearing lace-up instead of wellington boots, which meant asbestos fibres could stick to their laces or get inside their boots.

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This led to them being put at risk of breathing in asbestos fibres, and other fibres could have remained on their clothes when they went home to their families in the evening.

Despite Mr Kelly holding recognised qualifications as a supervisor in licensed asbestos removal, several other issues were also discovered on the site. There was insufficient water for workers to sponge down boots and masks to stop fibres becoming airborne, used clothing was discarded inside the enclosure, and daily checks on masks were not made.

Mr Kelly, aged 41, of Burwell Close in Kirkby, was fined £790 and ordered to pay costs of £250 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to take reasonable care of workers under his supervision.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Laura Moran said: “Asbestos is responsible for thousands of deaths in the UK every year but it only becomes dangerous when it is broken up and fibres are released into the air. That’s why asbestos can only be removed by specialist contractors but, as the site supervisor, Steven Kelly put workers at risk by not following the correct safety procedures.

“He simply should never have allowed three men to go into a contaminated area while wearing their own clothes, and without the correct protective clothing and respiratory masks.

“Workers, their families and anyone else who came into contact with them would have been put at risk as a result of Mr Kelly allowing the men to wear lace-up boots and the clothes they intended to go home in.”

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