Two employees were exposed to asbestos dust while working at a house in Bath. As a result, their employer, Geoff Thomas and Son Ltd was fined £5,000.
The workmen were required to demolish a basement ceiling and no checks were carried out for the presence of the deadly asbestos. They were required to use hand tools and to pull apart the ceiling with their hands. The workers were covered in the asbestos dust as a result of the demolition.
When the company realised the men were exposed to asbestos, instead of decontaminating their clothes, the firm sent the workers off to other sites to undertake other works. No precautions, warnings or safety equipment were provided to them.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident at the New King Street property and as a result Geoff Thomas and Son Ltd were prosecuted at Bath Magistrates Court.
Further, the company was not licensed to handle or remove the asbestos and they had failed to notify the HSE of the work in advance or the discovery of the asbestos, which is a requirement by law.
HSE Inspector, Paul Newton had this to say, “It was clear the work would disturb the fabric of the building, creating a risk of exposing the asbestos, so a full survey of the area should have been carried out before work started and suitable plans put in place to deal with it.” He further added that Geoff Thomas and Son Ltd compounded the situation by failing to decontaminate the workers clothes or their tools, “Instead they were allowed to go to other jobs and return home, potentially spreading the asbestos to their workmates and families.”
The real concern is that businesses in this day and age are prepared to allow their employees be exposed to asbestos, a potentially hazardous and dangerous material, with no regard to their workers, co-workers or their families. It emphasises the need for all local and small business operators to ensure that they undertake the necessary surveillance and request any asbestos audits or registers for sites. It also highlights the need to ensure that expert, qualified and experienced specialists undertake the removal of any asbestos, if and when it has been identified.
Although asbestos diseases such as Mesothelioma can take years or decades to develop, anyone exposed to asbestos fibres, dust or asbestos waste materials should register any exposure as soon as possible. This is to ensure correct details of the exposure are maintained, and that advice can be provided to people about what they should do in the future.
Slater and Gordon maintain a National Asbestos Register, to register free of charge call Dominic Smith on 0161 383 3527 or freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we'll be happy to help.
By Julian Cason, an Asbestos Compensation Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Cardiff.
For a free consultation about claiming compensation for an asbestos related disease call freephone 0800 916 904 or contact us online and we will call you.
Asbestos Health and Safety information can be found on the Health and Safety Executive website.