At a hearing at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court on 27 May 2014, a specialist asbestos removal firm was fined after exposing workers to asbestos during demolition work.
Ermine Infants’ School in Lincoln was being demolished in March 2012 and replaced with a new school building. Prior to work commencing, an asbestos survey was carried out and asbestos was found to be on site. It was necessary for the asbestos to be removed by a licensed contractor under safe, controlled conditions and the demolition firm sub-contracted Angus Group Ltd to undertake this work.
Angus Group Ltd ignored the survey recommendations for safe removal of the asbestos and following a visit by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors, a catalogue of safety breaches came to light. Amongst other things, there was no reference to the survey in the plan of work and which meant that there was no screening off or segregation of the asbestos removal, no extraction system was in place, material was being bagged up and walked to an outside skip and employees had no specific instructions about how to carry out the work.
Although the removal work should have taken seven days to complete, Angus Group advised the main contractor that the work was complete after just one day. However, when the main contractors visited the site the following day, they found dust and patches of asbestos material still in the hall of the school. Almost half of all air samples taken in the work area and around the school were found to contain asbestos fibres, meaning that the dust had spread throughout the building.
Angus Group Ltd, based in Paisley, Scotland, was fined £109,000 plus costs after being found guilty of eight breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.
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