Specialist fined after failing to spot asbestos

16 April 2018 | By Neil Gerrard

A specialist asbestos firm has been fined after it failed to spot asbestos at a demolition site.

EAS Asbestos was commissioned to conduct refurbishment and demolition surveys by Mercer Brother Ltd, a construction company contracted to demolish garages for Hyndburn Homes.

EAS stated in its surveys that asbestos was only present in the cement roof sheets, there were no areas that could not be accessed and that there was no asbestos insulation board present in the garages.

The demolition went ahead on 1 February 2017 but had to be stopped immediately after suspect material was found and another surveying company was brought in and confirmed the presence of a large amount of asbestos insulation board among the rubble.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the survey carried out by EAS Asbestos was incorrect and misleading.

EAS Asbestos, of Lower Meadow Lane, Huthwaite, Sutton in Ashfield, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The company was fined £6,700 and ordered to pay costs of £1,000 and a victim surcharge of £170.

HSE inspector Jacqueline Western said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

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The role of a specialist should be more spelled out and very stringent in regulations apart from the 3 standard conditions on their license, such as must display licence or a copy of it, at every work site, notify the relevant enforcing authority HSE or local authority at least 14 days in advance of the intended work with asbestos and sending a suitable and sufficient plan of work and equipment specifications. I suggest the HSE should place the fourth requirements on thorough review of the Trade specific definable features of work, including any construction permit requirements to ensure that they are clear as to how the infection control precautions pertain to their scope of work. On approval of this submittal by the HSE, the specialist should be held responsible for the essentials by going through expectations with Trade Foremen who will be performing the work on site to avoid hazards and satisfy the intermittent visiting HSE expectations [if required].


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