06 January 2017
Safeguarding Workers From Exposure to Asbestos
An asbestos removal supervisor from Birmingham has received a fine and suspended jail sentence for exposing workers to asbestos.
When it comes to negligence where asbestos is involved, the consequences can be severe and penalties should reflect this.
Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 any asbestos discovered on a work site must be registered and disposed of by specialists. For more information on the duties placed on those responsible by this legislation, please see: How Does The Law Protect You From Asbestos in a Non-Domestic Property?
Alan Burdett was supervising the removal of a large scale asbestos ceiling for Asbestos Decontamination Services Limited. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered a significant amount of metal framework that had supported the asbestos ceiling boards was stacked in the open building without being wrapped or sealed to prevent the spread of asbestos fibres.
Footage revealed Burdett allowing workers into the asbestos enclosure without protective clothing or face masks to prevent exposure to asbestos dust and fibres.
Asbestos may be found in any commercial building erected prior to 1999 in the UK. As a result, specialist surveyors should always be employed to carry out any assessment and management of asbestos when carrying out construction work or home renovations.
It is imperative that awareness is raised of the high health risk posed by disturbed asbestos dust and fibres. Exposure can result in asbestos-related diseases such as pleural thickening and mesothelioma, which is the cause of more than 2,000 deaths in the UK each year, according to HSE statistics.
One would therefore expect a professional responsible for the safe management of asbestos to be fully aware of the potential danger of exposing workers to asbestos. Protective clothing should be mandatory, along with robust measures taken to ensure asbestos dust and fibres cannot leave the enclosure and put the public at risk. Furthermore, anyone entering the site should be made aware of the asbestos and the risks involved.
Mr Burdett pleaded guilty to breaching Section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He received a six month jail sentence, which was suspended for 18 months, along with a fine of £1,500 and costs of £3,518.13.
Register Exposure to Asbestos Today
It is important that if you believe that you may have been exposed to asbestos on a work site, you should register this exposure as soon as possible.
Patrick Walsh is a principal lawyer specialising in industrial disease claims at Slater and Gordon in Manchester.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers have a specialist team of asbestos compensation solicitors that deal with asbestos claims on a No Win No Fee basis. For a free consultation call 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help you.