A building company in Bradford-on-Avon has been fined after it removed an asbestos insulation board (AIB) ceiling in an unsafe manner, leaving workers and residents at risk of exposure to asbestos fibres.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told Chippenham Magistrates’ Court that D B Construction (West Wilts) Ltd carried out unsafe work while refurbishing a house in Bradford-on-Avon between 29 November and 10 December 2010.
An AIB ceiling was removed in an uncontrolled manner, which put employees, subcontractors and the homeowners and their young children at risk of asbestos exposure.
The court heard an electrician on site raised concerns the ceiling boards being removed from could contain asbestos and he arranged for the material to be analysed before beginning work.
An analyst visited the site and advised work should cease until the contaminated area had been cleaned of asbestos debris. HSE later confirmed the ceiling boards contained both white and the more hazardous brown asbestos.
HSE found that DB Construction had failed to investigate whether asbestos was present in the building before work started and when removing the ceiling boards its employees and sub contractors failed to identify the material and broke up the boards releasing airborne asbestos fibres. The boards and debris were then removed in open bags and left in the garden in a breach of safety rules.
HSE inspector, Helena Tinton said after the prosecution:
“Asbestos widely known to be a hazardous material and asbestos fibre exposure is linked to a number of serious diseases, including cancer and scarring of the lungs. As such, work with materials containing higher risk asbestos, including asbestos insulation board, is a licensed activity with work only carried out by trained people under tightly controlled conditions.
“As a building contractor engaged in refurbishment work, D B Construction should have been aware of this and yet these ceiling boards were removed in an uncontrolled manner over a period of several hours, which resulted in the spread of airborne asbestos fibres inside and outside the property, leaving workers and the family at risk of exposure.”
D B Construction (West Wilts) Ltd, of Frome Road, Bradford-on-Avon, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and was fined £7,000 with £3,617.50 in costs.