HSE Successful Asbestos Prosecution
A businessman allowed the spread of asbestos in an industrial building by not employing licensed contractors to remove the potentially deadly material, a court has heard.
Peter Rees, the owner of a business unit in Eagle Farm Road on the Mochdre Business Park, was selling the building to another business when the incident happened in September 2012.
He appeared at Llandudno Magistrates’ Court today after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified clear failings with his management of the material.
The court heard that the company purchasing the unit had commissioned an asbestos survey that showed the presence of a large amount of asbestos insulating board.
However, instead of employing a qualified and licensed asbestos removal contractor – as the law requires – Mr Rees used a general contractor, which resulted in asbestos dust being spread inside the building.
A complaint was raised by a licensed contractor and a significant clean-up operation was then required by an authorised contractor.
Peter Rees, of York Road, Deganwy, was fined £8,000 ordered to pay £7,400 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
HSE Inspector, Chris Wilcox, speaking after the hearing, said:
“The potentially lethal effects of exposure to asbestos are well known.
“Mr Rees’ failure to use a qualified and licensed company to remove the asbestos led to contamination inside the building. Fortunately, HSE was made aware of the incident before it was reoccupied by the new owners.
“Anyone who owns or has control of non-domestic premises has a legal duty to manage the risk of asbestos in their buildings. When asbestos is removed, it must be done by someone who is trained and competent to do the work.”
Asbestos was extensively used as a building material in the 50s, 60s and 70s but it becomes dangerous if it is broken up and fibres are released. Airborne fibres can become lodged in the lungs or digestive tract and can lead to lung cancer or other diseases.
Asbestos-related diseases kill more people than any other single work-related illness.
Asbestos-related diseases can take 15-60 years to develop and there is no cure.
Asbestos-related diseases (such as mesothelioma and lung cancer) are currently responsible for an estimated 4,000 deaths a year.
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 employers and the self-employed have a duty to conduct undertakings to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, that non employees who may be affected by the work activities are not exposed to the risk to their health and safety.
The ‘Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012’ applies to all work with asbestos and requires the prevention of exposure to asbestos.
In cases where it is relatively easy to release asbestos fibers when working with asbestos insulation, asbestos coatings and AIB only those with a licence should carry out work with these materials.
Licensable work with asbestos is work:
- Where worker exposure to asbestos is not sporadic and of low intensity.
- Where the risk assessment cannot clearly demonstrate that the control limit will not be exceeded i.e. 0.1 asbestos fibres per cubic centimetre of air (0.1 f/cm3) (averaged over a four hour period).
- On asbestos coating.
- On asbestos insulation or asbestos insulating board where the risk assessment demonstrates that the work is not short duration work, e.g. when work with these materials will take no more than two hours in any seven day period, and no one person works for more than one hour in that two hour period.