A case in north Wales has emphasised just how important it is for employers to pay due consideration to the issue of asbestos and work out exactly how they will overcome it without threatening the health of their staff.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has revealed that Superior Plumbing Installations was prosecuted following an incident in Aberystwyth. It was working as the principal contractor at a major refurbishment of a block of flats.
During the procedure, two workers were exposed to asbestos, with neither having previously been given information that the deadly material was present. This led to the HSE becoming involved and it chose to prosecute the firm once it had learned that contractors were carrying out work without taking the asbestos into account.
Asbestos surveys for the properties in question existed, but it was found that Superior Plumbing Installations made no effort to obtain them. The company also failed to assess just how risky the site was.
It even hired a site manager to oversee the project who had never completed asbestos training courses, further deepening the problem.
Superior Plumbing Installations appeared in court yesterday (December 10th) and pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. It was handed a fine of £5,000 and told it must also pay costs of more than £3,800.
HSE inspector Phil Nicolle spoke after the court hearing and suggested that the company's failure to follow advice and industry guidance eventually proved to be its downfall. He noted that a serious long-term risk to the health of the workers now hangs over each of them.
"Contractors must ensure an asbestos survey has been carried out where a building - or part of it - needs upgrading, refurbishment or demolition. The survey must locate and identify all asbestos-containing material before any structural work begins and appropriate arrangements put in place to deal with any asbestos containing materials that are uncovered," he stated.