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Subcontractors could launch industrial disease claims

Subcontractors could launch industrial disease claims
A pair of subcontractors could soon be seeking compensation after the business they were working for were found to have unwittingly exposed both men to asbestos fibres.

Gardner Mechanical Services had been contracted to undertake a mechanical services upgrade in one of the rooms at the institutions.

They subcontracted this to another firm, which in turn gave the job to two self-employed men - Andrew Lloyd and Steve Taylor.

It was heard that on September 2nd 2009, the two men drilled through a sprayed asbestos ceiling coating. The men had assumed that all asbestos material had been removed from specialist contractors prior to their work.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that as the principal contractor Gardner Mechanical Services was aware that some materials obtaining asbestos were to be left on the site.

However, this information was not relayed to the self-employed workers and could now lead to industrial disease claims from the pair.

Gardner pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and Regulation 23(1)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

The first breach relates to the fact that the employer didn't take any steps to prevent or reduce the exposure to asbestos.

HSE inspector Adam Wycherley said the case highlights the importance of effective planning when addressing risks in construction, particularly when it comes to refurbishment, as there is then a higher possibility of coming into contact with asbestos.

"Gardner Mechanical Services had a clear duty of care to relay important information to its subcontractors in a reliable manner in order to prevent their exposure to asbestos, but this simply did not happen," he added, before continuing: "As a result two men were exposed to high levels of asbestos fibres, leaving them at risk of contracting serious disease such as lung cancer."

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Posted by Chris Stevenson