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Workers’ asbestos risk lands firm in dock

A company has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive for failing to protect workers from possible exposure to asbestos.
Two maintenance workers were relocating a junction at Darchem Engineering’s company site, which resulted in them drilling into asbestos insulation board, without taking proper precautions.

The Aberdeen-based firm pleaded guilty to breaching asbestos regulations (10(1) and 4(3) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006) at Teesside Magistrates Court. Darchem Engineering was ordered to pay £5,266.62.

HSE Inspector Andrew Mulligan said: 'Around 20 tradesmen a week are dying from asbestos-related diseases. Darchem Engineering failed to manage the risks from asbestos on the site, potentially exposing two of its workers to these hazardous fibres. A suitable and sufficient assessment should have been carried out and the company should have made sure that their employees had adequate information, instruction and training”.

Mulligan added: 'Fortunately a contractor who had asbestos awareness training identified the potential for asbestos to be present and work was stopped. He knew the key message: if in doubt stop and check.'

Asbestos products were used in the construction and refurbishment of buildings until 1999. The HSE stressed anyone with responsibility for maintenance activities must check for the presence of asbestos material and depending on its condition, either remove or manage it. If they decide to manage it they must ensure information on the location and condition of the asbestos material is given to anyone whose work might disturb it. They must also ensure that any work done does not expose anyone to asbestos fibres.

For HSE advice about asbestos click here
7 June 2010

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