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HSE Press releases - Asbestos Enforcement from 01/06/2016 - 25/11/2016



Bolton night club owner fined over asbestos exposure: - Date: 3 October 2016

 A Bolton night club owner has been sentenced after admitting a failure to carry out a survey for asbestos before starting on the refurbishment of a local night club.

 Manchester Magistrates’ court heard how UK Night Life Limited and its sole director, Charles John McGrath, undertook the management of a refurbishment project between 1 August and 12 August 2015 on The Level nightclub, Mawdsley Street, Bolton without an experienced contractor in place to manage the site. Up to 20 workers were potentially exposed to deadly asbestos fibres in order for the club to open in time for Fresher’s week and an influx of students to the club.

The site first came to the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) attention in August 2015 following a complaint from Bolton Council regarding unsafe construction works throughout the site.

The HSE inspector served a total of three Prohibition Notices and two Improvement Notices, along with a Notification of Contravention for a foreseeable risk of asbestos exposure, a lack of competent site manager, risks of falls from height, unsuitable welfare facilities and inadequate fire safety precautions.

Charles McGrath, sole director of UK Night Life Limited, of Mawdsley Street, Bolton, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and Regulations 5(a) and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, and was fined £5,720.00 with costs of £3,535.86.

In his summing up, District Judge Sanders remarked that Mr McGrath had chosen to rush through the works with unqualified and inexperienced people running the site on a day-to-day basis. He went on to say that it was clear that these offences amounted to a ‘degree of cost cutting at the expense of safety’.

HSE inspector Matt Greenly said after the case: “Mr McGrath totally failed in his duty to protect his workers, subcontractors and anyone else accessing this site from a foreseeable risk of serious harm. Asbestos related diseases are currently untreatable and claim the lives of an estimated 5,000 people per year in the UK.

“The requirement to have a suitable asbestos survey is clear and well known throughout the construction industry. Only by knowing if asbestos is present in any building before works commence can a contractor ensure that people working on their site are not exposed to these deadly fibres.

“The cost of an asbestos survey is minimal compared to the legacy facing anyone who worked on this site. They now have to live with the realisation that due to the lack of care taken by Mr McGrath they may face a life shortening disease at some point over the next 30 or more years, from an exposure which was totally preventable. This case sends a clear message to any company that it does not pay to ignore risks on site, especially to simply keep to a self-imposed tight schedule.”  

Company expose family to risk of asbestos: - Date: 29 July 2016

A Hertfordshire-based home improvement company has been fined after the unsafe removal of asbestos material from a domestic property.

St Albans Magistrates’ Court heard how Ace of Hearts Home Improvement Limited (AOH) removed asbestos containing materials (ACM) from a domestic property in St Albans.

The Asbestos Insulation Board (AIB) soffits surrounding the underside of the guttering around the front, gable end and back of the property had been dismantled in an unsafe manner creating the serious risk of respiratory exposure of asbestos fibres to the two workers and the residents of the property (family of four including two children).

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident which occurred on 25 Sept 2015 found that the company were not licensed to remove asbestos.

Ace of Hearts Home Improvements Limited, of Alldicks Road, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 8(1) and Regulation 16 of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2012, and The Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, Section 33 (1) (g) in that it failed to comply with an Improvement Notice, and was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,118.50.   

Essex school fined after refurbishment disturbs asbestos: - Date: 22 July 2016

An Essex school has been fined after poorly-planned and managed refurbishment and maintenance activities exposed school staff and others to asbestos.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard that managers at The Boswells School, Chelmsford, decided to convert an old boiler room at the school into a cleaning store. During the course of this work, asbestos residue on the walls was disturbed and caretakers swept contaminated debris from floors. Their exposure to risk only came to light after a later asbestos survey was completed in the area.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated this incident and learned that asbestos containing materials (ACM’s) were also present in other areas. School caretaking staff and contractors disturbed the fabric of school buildings over many years without being alerted to the presence of ACM’s. Persons who entered potentially contaminated areas were placed at risk of developing serious ill health conditions arising from exposure to airborne respirable asbestos fibres. The school also failed to ensure that spread of asbestos was prevented or reduced.

The Boswells Academy Trust, of Burnham Road, Chelmsford, Essex, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 – Sections 2(1) & 3(1).  The trust was fined £26,000 and ordered to pay costs of £20,000.

HSE Inspector Glyn Davies said after the hearing: “The Boswells Academy Trust should have controlled this potentially lethal risk by identifying the type, location and condition of any asbestos-containing-materials within the fabric of the school, and by implementing suitable precautions to prevent its disturbance. It should then have ensured that such information was shared with anyone liable to disturb this fabric. It may also have arranged for a licensed asbestos contractor to remove any dangerous asbestos safely before commencement of any work.

“This prosecution should act as a reminder, not just to schools but to all persons in control of the repair and maintenance of non-domestic premises, of the need to ensure that a suitable and sufficient assessment of risk from asbestos is carried out, and that correct control measures are put in place to ensure that exposure to asbestos is prevented, so far as is reasonably practicable.”  

Motor Manufacturer Fined over Asbestos Contamination: - Date: 8 July 2016

A motor manufacturer has been fined after discovery of asbestos boarding panels contaminated a site.

General Motors UK Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after work being undertaken at its North Road, Ellesmere Port site in 2014 exposed contractors to risks associated with asbestos.

An investigation by the HSE found that during work to replace high pressure hot water boilers with gas burners in the company’s paint unit, suspected asbestos insulating boards (AIB) were discovered beneath external cladding on the stores building.

Contractors carrying out the refurbishment had submitted a risk assessment and method statement for the work which was originally due to traverse a roof.

When the location of the new pipework was changed to the side of the building no review of the risk assessment for the job, specifically in relation to asbestos was undertaken. Subsequent sampling confirmed the presence of asbestos.

On the day the suspected boards were discovered the asbestos register was not fully available to the contractor to allow them to check whether the boards contained asbestos. No direct instruction was given by General Motors to the contractor to stop the work to prevent any AIB being disturbed. The work, including the removal and cutting of holes in AIB board, continued without suitable precautions.

Liverpool Crown Court heard no assessment of the risk was undertaken by General Motors to determine if the work was notifiable or licensed asbestos work. On completion of the work licensed contractors were employed to conduct a clean-up and decontamination programme of the roof and in the stores.

General Motors UK Ltd, of Osborne Road, Luton, Bedfordshire, pleaded guilty to a single breach of Section 3 (1) the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £ 11,779 in prosecution costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Jane Carroll said: “Asbestos kills around 5,000 workers each year; this is more than the number killed on UK roads. Asbestos can be present within any premises built or refurbished before the year 2000.

“Whenever asbestos containing materials are found to be present, companies have a legal duty to document and implement an Asbestos Management Plan which includes measures to adequately control the risk of exposure to asbestos fibres.”