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Health board fined for asbestos failings

A Scottish health board has been fined for safety failings that led to several workers and contractors being potentially exposed to deadly asbestos fibres.

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Timber repair firm responsible for spread of asbestos fibres

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."

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Workplace deaths underestimated by 800%

The government has been accused of hiding behind statistics, as workplace deaths are underestimated by more than 800%, trade union Unite has said.

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Control of Asbestos Regulations

The Health and Safety Executive has advised that the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 came into force on 6th April 2012, updating previous asbestos regulations to take account of the European Commission's view that the UK had not fully implemented the EU Directive on exposure to asbestos.

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