The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted DA Environmental Services Ltd at Cheltenham Magistrates' Court yesterday (5 November 2012) for three breaches of regulations relating to asbestos removal.
The court heard that the firm had undertaken an asbestos survey before demolishing the building. This showed the presence of asbestos insulating board (AIB). The report identified that this would have to be safely removed in a controlled manner before demolition went ahead.
However, during a six-week period in August and September 2011, the building was demolished and asbestos boarding removed by employees, exposing them to potentially significant quantities of asbestos fibres released during the work.
The company did not hold the necessary licence to carry out the asbestos removal and failed to take adequate steps to prevent both exposure to and the spread of asbestos fibres generated by the work. The HSE’s investigation also found the asbestos debris was not disposed of correctly, potentially extending the risk of exposure and spread of danger into the waste chain.
DA Environmental Services Ltd of Maida Vale Business Centre, Leckhampton, Cheltenham, pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 8, 11 and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. The company was fined a total of £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,452.
Speaking after the prosecution, HSE inspector Andrew Kingscott said: "Where material such as asbestos insulating board is identified, it should only be removed by a contractor who holds the necessary licence, in a safe manner and with the necessary control measures. DA Environmental should have appointed an appropriately licensed contractor to remove the materials.
"By undertaking the work themselves they unnecessarily exposed their own workers to the risks associated with significant levels of airborne asbestos fibres and failed to adequately contain their spread.
"Unfortunately, those working in the construction industry are regularly exposed to asbestos materials and the legacy of past exposures is evident in the high numbers of people in the UK who are suffering the fatal effects of uncontrolled exposures to asbestos fibres during their working lives."