The contractor who was licensed to remove asbestos was fined £150,000 for failing to keep people safe while they carried out the work at a school in Lincoln, despite knowing the health risks of exposure to asbestos.
Angus Group Limited had been hired to complete asbestos removal at a disused school prior to its demolition for redevelopment. However, it failed to ensure that the work was carried out properly and within the strict guidelines set out in the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. The company was found guilty at Lincoln Magistrates Court of eight breaches of the Regulations.
The asbestos survey results produced by the company contracted to demolish the school identified spray-coated asbestos in the main school hall. This survey was completely ignored by Angus Group Limited.Employees of the company then chiselled the asbestos off the walls with hand-held power tools, with no air extraction or screens in place, and then placed the asbestos and contaminated materials in a skip.
The work, which had been scheduled to take seven days, actually only took one day. When the work was inspected, there was dust all over the area and patches of asbestos still on the walls.
Inspections carried out in the hall and surrounding areas found that 15 of the 17 samples contained asbestos, and samples taken elsewhere in the building later showed that asbestos fibres had spread throughout the area.
Health and Safety Inspector Martin Giles confirmed after the trial that failings had occurred not only in the execution of the work at the old school, but also in the planning stages of the work. The risk assessments carried out by Angus Group Limited were not specific enough, nor did they plan to contain the asbestos correctly or segregate the area while the work was being carried out.
Asbestos-related illnesses are still the biggest killer of workers in the UK. See our article on Asbestosis awareness for more information about the symptoms and effects.
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