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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.

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Council and building firm fined for asbestos exposure

Staffordshire County Council and a refurbishment firm have been fined for exposing a nursery class, school staff and two joiners to asbestos fibres.

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Government must act over new workplace cancer study

The TUC has called for urgent action from the government to deal with the huge death toll from work-related cancer as research is published in the British Journal of Cancer Supplement into the incidence of cancers caused by work.The study was was funded by the Health and Safety Executive, and found that every year around 8,000 cancer deaths in Britain each year are linked to occupations which equates to around 5% of all cancer deaths in Britain.Researchers used a list of work-related cancer causing substances identified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer to calculate the impact of work on cancer cases and deaths, and discovered around 13,600 new cancer cases are caused by risk factors related to work each year.After asbestos, the main work-related risk factors were night shift-work - linked to around 1,960 female breast cancer cases, mineral oil from metal and printing industries - linked to around 1730 cases of bladder, lung and non-melanoma skin cancers, sun exposure - linked to around 1540 skin cancer cases, silica exposure - linked to 910 cancer cases and diesel engine exhaust - linked to 800 cases.Click here for more

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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.

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Supreme Court brings justice for asbestos victims

Trade Unions have welcomed the landmark ruling by the Supreme Court which will affect many of the 2,500 people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.Mesothelioma is a terminal form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma has an unusually long gestation period, which can be in excess of 40 years between exposure to asbestos and manifestation of the disease. Insurance companies had tried to argue that employer's liability policies only covered mesothelioma which manifested as a disease at some point during the relevant policy period. The Supreme Court has rejected these arguments, which would have denied compensation to victims of the terminal disease, and ruled that the insurers of an employer at the time of the exposure to asbestos should pay compensation.In his judgment Lord Clarke concluded that: “The whole purpose of these policies was to insure employers against liability to their employees. That purpose would be frustrated if the insurers’ submissions on this point were accepted.”Lord Phillips added that diseases are contracted when the process that leads to them is initiated as a result of wrongful exposure to the noxious substance that causes the disease.The judgment went on to emphasise that these principles apply not only to mesothelioma but also to other industrial diseases.

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Failure to identify asbestos put workers at risk

A Cardiff company has been fined for putting the health of demolition workers at risk after a building survey failed to identify the presence of asbestos.Between 15th and 25th January 2010 PHH Environmental (UK) Ltd was commissioned to produce an asbestos survey on the soon to be demolished Old Castle Cinema in Merthyr Tydfil.Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates' Court heard that PHH's client relied on this survey to help its demolition company plan the work. But once demolition was underway, workers discovered asbestos and found they had disturbed it.PHH Environmental (UK) Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,000.HSE inspector Steve Richardson investigated the case. He said:"Anyone carrying out refurbishment or demolition work relies upon accurate asbestos surveys to reduce the risk of them being exposed to deadly asbestos fibres. It is essential that those surveys are comprehensive, intrusive and undertaken by competent persons - if not lives are needlessly put at risk."When asbestos fibres are inhaled they can cause serious diseases which are responsible for around 4,000 deaths a year.

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Prison sentence for asbestos related negligence

Two former businessmen have been sentenced by an Italian court to 16 years in jail for negligence that contributed to the asbestos related deaths of over 2,000 people, reports the Scotsman.Stephan Schmidheiny, from Switzerland, was the former owner of Swiss construction firm Eternit, and Jean Louis Marie Ghislain De Cartier De Marchienne, from Belgium, was a former executive and shareholder. They were charged with deliberately failing to implement measures to prevent damage from asbestos exposure at the firm's fibre cement making plants in Italy.The trial began in December 2009, and since then has heard evidence linking 2,100 deaths to exposure to asbestos fibres at the plants. The court also awarded financial compensation to over 6,300 victims or family members of people who died or became ill as a result of asbestos exposure while working at the factories.

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Tradesman fined over asbestos release

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.

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