Contractor and local authority fined after workers remove asbestos insulation board in an open wheelbarrow.

A Grantham building contractor and a local authority have been fined after a spread of asbestos during bathroom renovation work at a flat in the town.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought the prosecution after workers from Belton Developments disturbed asbestos at the property in Kinoulton Court, owned by South Kesteven District Council (SKDC), on 30 March 2010 while converting a bathroom into a wet room.

The workers removed asbestos insulation board from around the bath and then carried it through the flat and communal areas of the housing complex in an open wheelbarrow before loading it into an open-topped van.

The dangerous work was spotted by an asbestos surveyor working on behalf of the council in the flat above. He was aware that many of the flats in the complex contained asbestos and stopped the men working. A licensed asbestos contractor was brought in to decontaminate the area and carry out air clearance tests.

The incident was reported to HSE by the council which, together with the three partners in Belton Developments, was today prosecuted by Grantham magistrates.

HSE told Grantham Magistrates’ Court the council had failed to provide adequate information on asbestos in the property to Belton Developments before work began, and failed to ensure that Belton Developments were competent to carry out work with asbestos. The three partners had failed to prevent the spread of asbestos or ensure that their employees were properly trained to deal with it.

The court was also told that the partners of Belton Developments had been served a Prohibition Notice preventing refurbishment work at a property in Manners Street on 18 March 2010, which was also an SKDC-owned building, as a suitable asbestos refurbishment and demolition survey had not been undertaken.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Mhairi Lockwood said:

“Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK. This case emphasises the importance of clients providing contractors with information on the presence of asbestos-containing materials including an appropriate asbestos survey in order that the significant risks from asbestos can be managed and controlled.

“Contractors need to be aware of the potential for asbestos to be disturbed while carrying out building work and provide their employees with adequate information, instruction and training so they can protect themselves and others.”

South Kesteven District Council pleaded guilty to breaching regulations 4(1)(a) and 10(1)(b) of the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2007. They were fined a total of £16,600 and ordered to pay costs of £3,486.

Trevor Hague, of South Hycombe Road, Albourne, Lincolnshire, his son Neil Hague, of Holmfield Avenue, Arnold, Nottingham, and David Couth, of West Willoughby, Grantham, each pleaded guilty to breaching regulations 10(1)(a) and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. They were fined a total of £3,003 and ordered to pay costs of £900.

Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK. Health and safety information on the dangers and management of asbestos in the workplace is available at www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos.

Notes to editors

The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to prevent death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
Regulation 4(1)(a) of the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2007 states: No person on whom these Regulations place a duty shall appoint or engage a CDM coordinator, designer, principal contractor or contractor unless he has taken reasonable steps to ensure that the person to be appointed or engaged is competent.
Regulation 10(1)(b) of the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2007 states: Every client shall ensure that (b) every contractor who has been or may be appointed by the client, is promptly provided with pre-construction information in accordance with paragraph (2). (2) The pre-construction information shall consist of all the information in the client’s possession (or which is reasonably obtainable), including – (a) any information about or affecting the site or the construction work; (b) any information concerning the proposed use of the structure as a workplace; (c) the minimum amount of time before the construction phase which will be allowed to the contractors appointed by the client for planning and preparation for construction work; and (d)any information in any existing health and safety file, which is relevant to the person to whom the client provides it for the purposes specified in paragraph (3). (3) The purposes referred to in paragraph (2) are- (a) to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable the health and safety of persons – (i) engaged in the construction work, (ii) liable to be affected by the way in which it is carried out, and (iii) who will use the structure as a workplace; and (b) without prejudice to sub-paragraph (a), to assist the persons to whom information is provided under this regulation – (i) to perform their duties under these Regulations, and (ii) to determine the resources referred to in regulation 9(1) which they are to allocate for managing the project.
Regulation 10(1)(a) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 states: Every employer shall ensure that adequate information, instruction and training is given to those of his employees who are or who are liable to be exposed to asbestos, or who supervise such employees, so that they are aware of
the properties of asbestos and its effects on health, including its interaction with smoking,
the types of products or materials likely to contain asbestos,
the operations which could result in asbestos exposure and the importance of preventive controls to minimise exposure,
safe work practices, control measures, and protective equipment,
the purpose, choice, limitations, proper use and maintenance of respiratory protective equipment,
emergency procedures,
hygiene requirements,
decontamination procedures,
waste handling procedures,
medical examination requirements, and
the control limit and the need for air monitoring, in order to safeguard themselves and other employees;
Regulation 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 states: Every employer shall prevent or, where this is not reasonably practicable, reduce to the lowest level reasonably practicable the spread of asbestos from any place where work under his control is carried out.
Source HSE