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Swansea contractor fined £12k for asbestos hazards

28 Oct 11 A building contractor has been fined £12k after its workers were exposed to potentially deadly asbestos fibres during refurbishment work at premises in Swansea.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted JC Irvine Ltd following an investigation that revealed work on the refurbishment of the former Ace Electrics building in The Strand was being carried out without an asbestos survey.

Swansea magistrates heard that, between 27 April and 12 May 2010, asbestos-containing materials were disturbed by JC Irvine’s workers, releasing asbestos fibres into the air.

The HSE was informed that employees were carrying out work in a contaminated building, and inspectors visiting the site on 12 May 2010 served an immediate prohibition notice.

The subsequent investigation found that JC Irvine had failed to ensure that the refurbishment work was planned properly and that employees were not exposed to asbestos fibres.

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JC Irvine Ltd of Oldway, Bishopston, Swansea pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 23(1)(a) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007 and Regulation 5 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. It was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £2,148.50.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Hayley Healey said: "Construction and maintenance workers are in the most at-risk groups from asbestos-related diseases due to the nature of their work. The widespread occurrence of asbestos as a product in buildings constructed or refurbished prior to 2000, means that inadvertent disturbance of asbestos-containing materials can be frequent and regular where asbestos products have not been adequately identified or managed.

"This prosecution should act as a reminder to those in the construction industry of the importance of ensuring that an asbestos survey, and its findings, are available prior to work being carried out and that the correct control measures are in place to ensure that exposure to asbestos is prevented, so far as is reasonably practicable."

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