Dairy company, Dale Farm, pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety laws following a case brought by the Health and Safety Executive in Northern Ireland (HSENI). Dale Farm were fined £30,000 as well as costs of £2,500.
Extension work was taking place at Dunmanbridge Creamery, Cookstown in March 2013. An HSENI investigation revealed that, 10 years earlier, an asbestos management survey had taken place, yet a management plan had not been put in place since then. Further to this, Dale Farm hadn’t registered the discovery of asbestos insulation. When the extension work began on Dunmanbridge Creamery, two engineers were not made aware of materials containing asbestos on the site.
HSENI inspector, Jonathan Knox, stated: “Asbestos exposure is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in Northern Ireland.
"Although the supply of asbestos containing materials was prohibited in 1999 many buildings in Northern Ireland still contain such products.
"Those in charge of non-domestic premises have a duty to manage the risks presented by asbestos-containing materials."
Registering Exposure to Asbestos in the Workplace
Fundamentally important in any refurbishment or construction work on property thought to contain asbestos is ensuring that the risk of exposure is minimised to workers and the public.
The procedures of asbestos surveys and management when discovered are in place for a reason: safety. Where a contamination of asbestos is known, measures should be taken to protect any workers in the event it is disturbed. If an engineer is to be in contact with asbestos on a work site, protective clothing is essential.
Considering there are more than 2,000 people who die from mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos dust and fibres in the UK it is somewhat concerning to learn about any organisation in the UK that doesn’t comply with basic HSE regulations.
Because the effects of exposure to asbestos may not become clear until several decades after the initial exposure it is important that, if you are exposed to asbestos at work, you register this as soon as possible or contact Dominic Smith.
Dominic Smith is national operations co-ordinator at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.
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