13 December 2012
Men to file industrial disease claims?
Industrial disease claims could be launched by two men who were exposed to asbestos while working on a building project in Wales.
The unnamed duo were part of a team of professionals working on major refurbishment task on a block of flats in Penparcau, Aberystwyth, between November 2010 and February 2011 that was being overseen by Superior Plumbing Installations.
During a standard inspection of the site, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) established that the firm had instructed employees to press ahead with the job without first checking for the presence of asbestos.
As such, by the time a full and proper analysis of the area had taken place, the workers has removed 82 metres of cement board which a survey had found was "presumed to contain" the potentially-lethal substance.
The professionals broke this material up by hitting it with hammers, shovelling it up and placing it in general waste skips - meaning it is almost certain they will have disturbed and inhaled asbestos fibres.
Despite the likelihood of the substance being present at the site, the HSE found that Superior Plumbing made no attempt to get hold of the asbestos surveys previously carried out on the premise.
Consequently, bosses also failed the properly deal with the removal of the dangerous articles, while also hiring a site manager who had not been provided with adequate training on how to be aware of asbestos.
During a hearing at Aberystwyth Magistrates' Court, the company admitted breaking the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £5,000 for its negligence, meaning the men could now decide to pursue a claim for civil damages against the organisation.
Phil Nicolle, inspector at the HSE, commented: "Superior Plumbing's failure to follow advice, guidance and their own procedures to identify the presence of asbestos and plan for its safe removal has needlessly created a serious long term risk to workers' health."
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Posted by Chris Stevenson