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A specialist asbestos removal company based in Paisley, Scotland, has been recently found guilty of eight breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and as a consequence fined a total of £109,000 and ordered to pay a further £42,100 in costs.
The specialist asbestos removal company were instructed by the project demolition contractors to carry out asbestos removal work of a former school building in Lincoln early 2012.
As was normal practice, an asbestos survey was immediately undertaken and areas within the building containing asbestos were indentified, with recommendations on safe removal. The survey found areas of spray-applied asbestos coating which should be removed by a licensed contractor under safe, controlled conditions.
Unfortunately these recommendations were “ignored” and asbestos spray coating on the main hall walls was chiseled off using power tools without screens, enclosures or air extraction systems in place. Asbestos-containing material was bagged and carried to a skip outside, potentially exposing workmen to the toxic substance in the process. The main demolition contractors were then informed that the asbestos removal work on one part of the building was finished. When the main contractors visited the former school the next day they found the area covered in the toxic dust and areas of asbestos material still on the wall.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral which has been mined and used for commercial and domestic purposes for many years. Amphibole or straight-fibre types are much more dangerous than chrysotile, which has long slender fibres, is less easily inhaled and is cleared from the lung tissue more rapidly. When someone disturbs an asbestos-containing-product, they release the microscopic fibres into the air. If inhaled, these thin fibres become trapped in the lungs. Over periods of time, they can accumulate and cause inflammation, scarring and other critical health problems. In some cases the fibres can even trigger the development of lung cancer.
HSE experts concluded the company’s safeguards to control the asbestos risks were seriously inadequate leading to an unnecessary release and spread of dangerous asbestos fibres and dust.
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