Fines imposed for asbestos exposure

A company in Poole has been fined for safety breaches after exposing workers to potentially fatal asbestos at a disused tile factory in the town.

The company allowed a series of people and workers on to the site despite being aware of the presence of asbestos materials from a survey it commissioned itself. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was alerted and after carrying out an investigation it prosecuted the company for safety failings.

The court heard that the company had agreed to sell redundant equipment at the factory site to a local trader. Between October 2010 and the following April the trader unwittingly released asbestos dust and fibres when he demolished part of a disused pottery kiln while removing kiln carts from the site.

In May 2011, the company commissioned a firm to carry out an asbestos survey but allowed work to take place on site and next to the damaged kiln before the survey was completed in August of that year.

Even after the company received the survey report, which clearly stated asbestos debris was present and that the area should be made out-of-bounds, they allowed workers to continue activities at the premises.

The company was fined £60,000 and ordered to pay a further £20,000 in costs after pleading guilty to three breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector, James Powell said:

"Asbestos-related diseases kill more people than any other single work-related cause. All types of asbestos can be dangerous if disturbed. The danger arises when asbestos fibres become airborne. They form a very fine dust. Breathing asbestos dust can cause serious damage to the lungs and cause cancer."

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