Two companies could face industrial disease claims after it emerged they had put workers in danger of contracting asbestos-related diseases.
Rilmac Insulation sent two of its employees to work on a refurbishment project of a ward at St Mary's Hospital in Kettering after being hired by main contractor Simons Construction to conduct an asbestos survey there in December 2009.
The asbestos survey carried out by professionals from Rilmac Insulation established that the potentially-lethal substance was present in a coating on the underside of the ceilings in the Martin Roth area of the hospital.
However, this analysis failed to identify the presence of some 200 sq metres of asbestos insulation board that had been installed above the surface.
As such, the two men were instructed to knock holes through the ceilings because Rilmac was unaware that the asbestos panelling was there, which resulted in the men disturbing the material.
Because of the fact the company knew about the asbestos coating on the ceilings themselves, the employees were provided with mask for the job, but this equipment was not suitable for the amount of the substance present.
In addition, the pair did not wear overalls and, because of their lack of knowledge of the dangers involved, did not work in a way that would have contained and restricted the release of asbestos fibres.
Consequently, asbestos landed on their clothing, meaning they are likely to have breathed in dangerous particles and an investigation conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) established that the duo had also not been provided with training on how to identify the presence of asbestos.
Martin Giles, inspector at the HSE, observed: "Rilmac failed to properly identify the full extent of asbestos in the ceiling, while Simons, despite knowing from the survey that some was present, failed to provide a safe system of work."
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Posted by Chris Stevenson