HSE Release No:
The boss of a refurbishment company has been fined for failing to provide adequate information, instruction and training to workers in the proper procedures when dealing with asbestos.
Neil Brown, 45, trading as High View Services, of High View, Wallsend, North Tyneside, was fined £360 by North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court today after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 10(1)(a) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. He was also ordered to pay £360 costs.
The court heard how the breach came to light on 6 January 2009 during the investigation of an asbestos-related incident at a North Tyneside Council house in Killingworth, the home of Amanda Cleminson. The incident occurred during a heating upgrade of the property, which involved Mr Brown’s company.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that while work conducted by Neil Brown’s employees could readily bring them into contact with asbestos, they had not been given any asbestos awareness training by Mr Brown, despite a legal requirement to do so.
After the case, HSE Inspector Graham Watson said:
“Any employer who conducts work which may result in their employees coming into contact with asbestos must make sure they receive adequate information, instruction and training to help control not just the risks to themselves but others who may also be exposed.
“You are most likely to find asbestos in buildings built or refurbished before 2000. Anyone conducting refurbishment work in such buildings, where they are likely to disturb the fabric of the building, must therefore make sure that their employees are properly trained. This includes not only making sure there are arrangements for training new employees but also providing regular refresher training.
“Many workers think they are not at risk of exposure to asbestos or the diseases it can cause. They think that since asbestos was banned many years ago, the problem has been dealt with and is not relevant to them. The reality, however, is very different and so adequate information, instruction and training is essential.”
Exposure to asbestos is the biggest single cause of work-related deaths, with around 4,000 people a year dying from asbestos-related diseases. Workers most at risk are those who carry out building maintenance and refurbishment work such as electricians, plasterers, plumbers and carpenters.
Asbestos can cause a number of fatal or serious respiratory conditions if fibres are inhaled and asbestos exposure is the most serious occupational health issue in the UK.