On 31 March 2014, Taunton Magistrates’ Court found a Bristol property developer guilty of failing to plan for the potential presence of asbestos insulation board (AIB) before commencing development of a former Marks & Spencer shop building in Bridgwater.
Da Vinci Developments Limited was fined £9,800 after it exposed at least three employees to potentially deadly asbestos fibres whilst they were working on the former M & S building on Queen Street, Bridgwater, between 17 September and 24 October 2012.
A non-licensed asbestos removal company had been asked to quote for removal of the asbestos. They were aware that this work had to be carried out by licensed companies only and they consequently notified the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).
An investigation by HSE found that no checks for the presence of asbestos had been made by Da Vinci Developments Limited prior to starting the work. Demolition work had been going on for several weeks, consequently exposing employees to large amounts of airborne asbestos fibres. Removal of the AIB prior commencement of the work would have controlled the spread of these asbestos fibres.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector James Lucas said:
“Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK. Building owners and contractors have a duty to ensure they protect their workers from risk of exposure. Da Vinci Developments Limited neglected their duty by failing to plan for the dangers of this hidden killer.”
Information and advice about working safely with asbestos can be found on the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos.
Further details on this article can be found at press.hse.gov.uk/2014/developer-in-court-for-breaking-asbestos-safety-code/?eban=govdel-asbestos&cr=31-Mar-2014.