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Shopfitter and client fined for exposing siteworkers to asbestos

30 Jul 12 A Cheltenham contractor and a retailer have been prosecuted after a construction worker was exposed to asbestos during a refurbishment project.

Simon Cooper was engaged by Hutchinson HiFi & Vision Ltd  to refurbish an empty shop unit in Cheltenham High Street. Work involved replacing a suspended ceiling.

In a prosecution brought by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), Cheltenham Magistrates' Court heard that contractor Simon Cooper had failed to ensure a proper asbestos survey was available before work began. As a result, workers on site, including Matthew Thompson 28, from Cheltenham, removed up to 85m of asbestos insulating board over two days on 16 and 17 February 2010 without the necessary controls or adequate protection.

The court was also told that Hutchinson HiFi & Vision Ltd failed to provide any information regarding the presence of asbestos within the building. By law, i should have ensured a demolition and refurbishment survey was carried out and the results made available to Mr Cooper.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Simon Chilcott said: "As a result of the failings of Simon Cooper and Hutchinson HiFi & Vision, people were unnecessarily exposed to asbestos. This incident could have been avoided if the retailer had provided information on the presence of asbestos in the building and Mr Cooper had ensured he had seen a demolition and refurbishment survey before commencing the renovation work.

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"The risks of asbestos are well known in the construction industry as are the controls required in dealing with it. Exposure to asbestos can have fatal or serious long term health consequences and, as such, every precaution must be taken to minimise any risks when working on buildings."

Hutchinson HiFi & Vision Ltd, of High Street, Cheltenham, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 10 (1) (b) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007. It was fined £3,500 and ordered to pay £1,836 in costs.

Simon Cooper, of Leckhampton, Cheltenham, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. He was fined £600 and ordered to pay £800 in costs.

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