This article was published on May 15th, 2017
Health problems caused by prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibres are well documented and in many cases can cause serious and fatal illnesses including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. In the 80’s and 90’s asbestos was widely recognised to be a highly dangerous material and was phased out and eventually banned in the construction industry. It is still present in many period properties and can be found on factory and shed roofs, but there are strict health guidelines on how to remove asbestos which often requires a specialist removal company.
Construction companies are well aware of the dangers of asbestos and have a duty of care to their employees/contractors and future occupants to ensure it is disposed of or moved safely using specialist techniques. A Crown Court heard how a company repeatedly flouted safety guidelines with regards to asbestos and has now been substantially fined for its failings.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) first investigated the company in 2013 whilst they were converting a 9 storey office building into flats, which was known to contain asbestos. A routine inspection revealed that despite a refurbishment and demolition (R&D) survey being carried out and asbestos identified as present, nothing had been put in place to protect the 40 workers being exposed to it during the early demolition stages.
The HSE revisited the site in 2014 following more complaints of poor practice and discovered that even though the company had engaged a licensed asbestos contractor to remove the remaining asbestos materials, poor practices were still going on and they were unable to provide documentation to demonstrate that the asbestos materials identified in the survey had been correctly removed. 160 employees and contractors were still working inside the building.
Due to ineffective management controls to avoid the risk of exposure to asbestos, the Court found the construction company guilty to two offences of breaching Regulation 22 (1) (a) of the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2007. They were fined £750,000 and ordered to pay legal costs of £14,874.68.
An HSE inspector said: “The company’s failings in this case has put many workers at risk to the exposure of asbestos.
“It was clear there was an endemic failure to effectively manage the construction work on the site in a way which ensured that asbestos materials were not disturbed until removed under appropriate conditions. Failing to prevent the breathing in of asbestos fibres on the site is reckless.”
Employers have a duty to comply with Health and Safety laws and regulations and provide their employees with a safe workplace and if they don’t fulfil this duty then they are breaking the law, as well as putting you at risk. If you have an accident at work that was not your fault then you have a right to file an injury at work claim against them.
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To make a successful accident at work claim, you would need to prove that your workplace injuries were caused as a result of the negligence of your employer and we will advise you on what procedures you need to follow, as well as assisting you in obtaining evidence that will support your accident at work claim.
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