Two businesses and a company director have been fined after workers in Manchester were exposed to potentially deadly asbestos fibres.
The prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) came just days before the launch of a national £1.2 million campaign to increase awareness about asbestos among tradespeople (see separate story).
The Ashton-under-Lyne based company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(3) of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 at Trafford Magistrates’ Court. It was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,000.
Contractors working on behalf of the company and its Managing Director, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and Regulation 3(1) of the Asbestos Licensing Regulations 1983. They were each fined £2,000.
The court heard that employees came into contact with asbestos while demolishing part of a recycling plant. Contractors had been hired to carry out the work after the plant was severely damaged by fire. The building included substantial amounts of asbestos but no site assessment was carried out, and the contractors were not licensed to remove it.
The HSE decided to prosecute after one of their Inspectors visited the site. He said:
“We took immediate action to stop the demolition, and were shocked that workers had been allowed to remove asbestos without the proper precautions being taken.
“The company did not carry out any assessment to find out whether asbestos was, or was likely to be, present in its premises. If the company had, it would have found asbestos in large sections of insulation boards and some in coating sprayed on the building’s steelwork.”