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Asbestos Firm Exposed Workers to Hidden Killer

A specialist asbestos removal company from Paisley has been fined after it exposed workers to dangerous asbestos fibres during the demolition of a former school building in Lincoln.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an investigation after inspectors visited the school and discovered a catalogue of safety breaches.

The company had been sub-contracted to carry out the asbestos removal work on behalf of the contractors demolishing the school.

Before work began, an asbestos survey was carried out to identify the areas in the building containing asbestos, and recommending how this was to be treated to ensure safe removal.

The survey found the end walls of the school’s main hall were covered in a spray-applied coating of asbestos, and should therefore be removed by a licensed contractor under safe, controlled conditions.

HSE’s investigations found these recommendations were ignored by the company. The asbestos spray coating on the main hall walls was chiseled off using power tools without any screens, enclosures or air extraction systems in place. Asbestos-containing material was bagged and carried to a skip outside.

HSE found a catalogue of failings in the way the work had been planned and carried out. In addition, the company’s safeguards to control the asbestos risks were seriously inadequate, leading to an unnecessary release and spread of dangerous asbestos fibres and dust.

It was found guilty of eight breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006, and was fined a total of £109,000 and ordered to pay a further £42,100 in costs.

Around 4,500 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. Airborne fibres can become lodged in the lungs or digestive tract, and can lead to lung cancer or other diseases, but symptoms may not appear for several decades.

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