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Two companies have been prosecuted after workers were exposed to potentially deadly asbestos fibres at a mill in Bolton.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) took legal action after finding dozens of damaged asbestos boards stacked up during a visit in October 2010.
Manchester Crown Court heard that neither company had put a plan in place to manage the asbestos in the mill on Tennyson Street, where several small businesses rent units.
HSE became aware of the issue when a contractor on the site raised concerns that asbestos insulation boards had been stripped out of unoccupied floors at the mill, releasing potentially deadly asbestos fibres into the air.
Inspectors issued two Prohibition Notices banning the removal of tools and other items from four floors of the mill in case they had become contaminated with asbestos fibres, and preventing access to the floors.
They also found that asbestos was present in other parts of the mill, occupied by tenants, but nothing had been done to protect it and make sure it was safe.
Asbestos boards were commonly used up until the 1980s to help insulate buildings, to build partition walls and as ceiling tiles. The boards only become dangerous if they are broken up and asbestos fibres are released into the air.
Fibres that are breathed in can become lodged in the lungs or digestive tract, and may lead to lung cancer or other diseases if large numbers of fibres are inhaled. However, symptoms may not appear for several decades.
Around 4,000 people die every year as a result of breathing in asbestos fibres, making it the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK.
A Cheltenham contractor and a retailer have been prosecuted after a construction worker was exposed to asbestos during a refurbishment project....
Potentially deadly asbestos fibres were spread in part of a shop by unqualified workmen and left on the premises for three weeks.
In a prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Cardiff Magistrates heard that the company, which specialises in damp and timber repairs, committed four offences and was fined a total of £18,000 and ordered to pay £5,314 in costs.
The company was contracted to carry out the work in an antiques shop in the Vale of Glamorgan. Employees were sent to work on the site to survey and strip out parts of the building affected by damp and wood rot, without checking for the presence of asbestos.
None of the workers had received sufficient information, instruction or training in asbestos awareness or removal and the company did not have a license to remove or handle asbestos containing materials.
Asbestos insulation boards were removed in a back room by one of the workers and the ceiling was demolished. The uncontrolled removal of the asbestos boards and demolition work caused the disturbance and spread of potentially deadly asbestos fibres.
Instead of arranging for the proper disposal of the asbestos, the dust was swept into rubble bags and dumped in a skip lorry, along with the asbestos insulation boards. The asbestos material was immediately identified at the waste transfer site and were collected by the company and left in the backyard of the shop.
The owners of the building contacted the HSE and then arranged for a licensed removal company to undertake a full environmental clean of the building.
HSE Inspector, Steve Richardson, speaking after the case, said: "This incident was entirely preventable and would not have happened if the company had provided adequate information, instruction and training to its staff.
"The company had no procedures to check for the presence of asbestos and as a result, has put the health of its workers and the shopowners at risk of potentially fatal asbestos-related lung diseases."
Asbestos victims are still dying without legal redress, two years after the Government finished consulting on plans to set up an insurance fund to help them....
A Birmingham handyman has been prosecuted after releasing asbestos fibres while refurbishing a kitchen at a flat in Solihull.
Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found William Rogers, a carpenter and general handyman, had removed partition walls containing asbestos insulating board at the premises.
Solihull Magistrates' Court heard Mr Rogers had wrongly assumed he was dealing with asbestos cement, which does not require specialist contractors to remove it, and went ahead with the job. As a result, both he and the tenant, who has asked not to be named, were potentially exposed to asbestos dust.
Mr Rogers spread asbestos debris in the kitchen and on the communal stairs and loaded the removed pieces of asbestos insulating board into his car. By law it should have been disposed of by an approved carrier of asbestos waste.
The incident was discovered when a licensed asbestos removal contractor, who was working elsewhere in the building, spotted pieces of asbestos outside and alerted HSE. The court heard the area and Mr Rogers' car had to be decontaminated.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE principal inspector Jo Anderson said:
"Tradespeople are highly likely to come across asbestos at some point in their career. They must make sure they are properly trained so that they can identify it and know what to do next and there is a wealth of guidance available on HSE's website to help them.
"If they have not checked what kind of asbestos is present and they have not been trained to work with asbestos, they must not start work.
"The landlord had told William Rogers that the walls contained asbestos, yet he went ahead with the refurbishment without carrying out any checks. The tenant now has to live with the knowledge that he is at risk of developing a serious lung disease in years to come through no fault of his own.”
Asbestos is the biggest single cause of occupational deaths in the UK, with an estimated 4,000 people dying every year from related diseases such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.