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Asbestos Code Breach Lands Developer in Court

A Bristol-based property developer has been fined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after it exposed workers to a dangerous level of asbestos.

At least three employees at Da Vinci Developments are known to have inhaled fibres from asbestos during a construction project in the former Marks and Spencer building in Bridgwater between September 17th and October 24th 2012.

Taunton Magistrates' Court was told the company did not plan for the potential eventuality that the building might contain the carcinogen, despite the fact that many buildings from this era had insulation boards with asbestos inside.

An investigation by the HSE found that Da Vinci Developments did not carry out a statutory survey to check the presence of the material before workers started their roles on site, a severe breach of guidelines.

According to the HSE, employees were exposed to "large amounts" of airborne asbestos fibres, which spread both inside and outside of the building during the project.

For its part in the exposure of staff, Da Vinci Developments pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and was fined £9,800, as well as being ordered to pay £796 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector James Lucas said, "Workers who have been exposed to asbestos could also have posed a health risk to others in the long term, even their families and loved ones, by taking home contaminated clothing.

"Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK. Building owners and contractors have a duty to ensure they protect their workers from risk of exposure."

The HSE has been attempting to crack down on a spate of asbestos exposures in recent weeks.

Geoff Thomas and Son, based in Bath, was recently fined £5,000 by the regulator after it was found that two of its employees inhaled asbestos fibres while working on a residential property in the New King Street area of the city.

By Francesca Witney