On 12 March 2014 I blogged about how Frames Conservatories Direct Ltd (FCDL), a Suffolk window replacement company was fined after exposing workers to dangerous and hazardous asbestos material during work that replaced windows at Westley Middle School in Bury St Edmunds.
Today, I have read again that another Suffolk building contractor, Columbus Building Contractors Ltd, has been fined after it exposed workers and homeowners to deadly asbestos material during work on a garage extension in Ipswich.
The garage had an asbestos insulation board ceiling that acted as a fire break between it and the house. As a result of the refurbishment between May and August 2012 the asbestos insulation board was removed, broken up and left on the owners’ front lawn which was then bagged and transported by one of the house owners to the local tip in his car. It was only at this point, at the tip, that the asbestos was identified.
Ipswich Magistrates Court heard the case and fined Columbus Building Contractors Ltd a total of £10,0000 and they were ordered to pay £6,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching regulations 8(1) and 11(1)(a) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Adam Hills said, “This is an incident that was entirely preventable. Columbus Building Contractors had worked with this type of material before and had asbestos knowledge. They questioned the presence of asbestos materials in the ceiling but made no efforts to obtain an asbestos survey or take samples for analysis to establish if asbestos was contained within the ceiling.
“After removal, the asbestos material was simply left on the front lawn before being bagged in open sacks and transported to the local tip by the homeowner. Both the workers and homeowner would have been exposed to a significant amount of asbestos fibres during these works.
“It is absolutely essential that assumptions are not made when dealing with suspected asbestos materials. If in doubt, get it checked by a professional before starting any work.
This incident yet again raises the blatant risk to all concerned, employees and unsuspecting home owners alike as to their unnecessary exposure to this deadly material. These dangers are known within the building industry. It is essential that asbestos is properly identified, managed and removed by specialist licensed contractors as soon as practicable to reduce any potential exposure.
If you believe you have been exposed to asbestos fibres, dust or asbestos waste materials, we recommend registering any exposure as soon as possible on the Slater and Gordon Asbestos Register. Simply complete the form online or for assistance call Dominic Smith on 0161 383 3527 or freephone 0800 916 9046 to register free of charge.
Alison Kerr is a Personal Injury Solicitor specialising in Asbestos & Mesothelioma Compensation at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.
Slater and Gordon offer a free consultation for victims of asbestos related illnesses and family members. Call freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we will call you.
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