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Firm fined after failing to manage asbestos

A laboratory testing firm has been prosecuted after putting workers at its Tyneside premises at risk of exposure to asbestos.

An investigation was launched into the activities of Exova (UK) Limited following a complaint the company had not dealt with damaged asbestos at its site despite being recommended to do so on two previous occasions.

Newcastle Magistrates' Court heard the company's own accredited asbestos testing branch carried out a survey of the premises in October 2008. Damaged asbestos was identified by this branch in two separate areas of the site and the survey stated the damaged asbestos should be removed, repaired or sealed off.

A further survey was completed in February 2010 and again stated the previously identified damaged asbestos was still there and repeated its earlier recommendation.

HSE inspector Andrew Woodhall visited the site in July 2010 and found the recommendations of the two earlier surveys had still not been implemented and employees were continuing to access and work in areas where damaged asbestos was present. He then instigated enforcement action.

The company was fined a total of £36,000 (£12,000 for each offence) and ordered to pay £8,000 costs after it pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.

Asbestos-related diseases are responsible for around 4,000 deaths a year. Working on or near damaged asbestos-containing materials or breathing in high levels of asbestos fibres could increase your chances of getting an asbestos-related disease.

Control of Asbestos Regulations
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