Tourist’s Warned Against Visiting Asbestos Town

The BBC has reported on the latest ghost town tourist attraction in Australia.

It is the ghost town in Western Australia that was built on an asbestos mine.

Now authorities are concerned that curious tourists and thrill-seekers are returning to the outback town of Wittenoom, which was shut down in the 1970s.

Local officials issued a notice this week warning people against visiting Wittenoom, located 1,100km (680 miles) north of Perth.

The former mining town is officially classified as a contaminated site. Thousands of its former residents and visitors have died from asbestos exposure.

The state government has referred to Wittenoom as “the greatest occupational health and safety tragedy in Australia – comparable to the Chernobyl and Bhopal catastrophes.”

Road signs warn people against visiting the town, which still retains a handful of residents.

However, a steady stream of videos and online blog posts in recent years show travellers are not heeding the safety warnings.

Earlier this month Ashley White, who is from Western Australia, ventured into the town while travelling through the rugged Pilbara region with his girlfriend.

Wittenoom is located on the way to Karijini National Park, a popular attraction known for its gorges and waterfalls.

Mr White told the BBC that he had researched the town’s asbestos dangers prior to his visit, and that he had read the area’s warning signs.

However none of it stopped him from exploring the derelict buildings and going up to one of the old mine shafts.

“From what I could find, it is the fibres in the air that cause the problems,” he said. “There was no wind when we went so I was under the impression that a short visit won’t hurt.”

Authorities say that toxic asbestos fibres remain all over Wittenoom and its surroundings, including a popular gorge.

Mr White said he liked “looking around ghost towns and abandoned places”. He was “not bothered” by the safety risk, unlike his girlfriend who refused to go into the town.

Other travellers online appear to feel the same as Mr White.

In one YouTube video, a group of men pick their way through one of the old asbestos mine shafts. They appear to be led by a local man who is familiar with the mine’s workings.

The comments posted under the video are mixed. Some congratulate the men on their adventure and for achieving a “unique look into the past”. Others raise warnings.

“Isn’t there dangerous levels of blue asbestos in that area? You guys should be careful, that stuff can kill,” one person wrote.

“I know it’s personal choice but what a price to pay,” reads another comment.

The videos have triggered alarm for authorities, who say visitation is an ongoing issue.

“The history of Wittenoom raises serious questions as to the safety of those visiting the town and its surrounds, even today,” Rob Paull, the chief executive of the local Shire of Ashburton told the BBC.

“We strongly recommend that people do not visit Wittenoom.”

After the government shut down the mines in 1966, most residents relocated. Houses and buildings were demolished along the way.

In 2006, it lost its status as a town and was removed from official maps and road signs.

The government’s website on Wittenoom says exposure to asbestos can result in fatal diseases such as mesothelioma – a rare form of cancer which affects the thin membrane that lines the chest and abdomen, asbestosis and lung cancer.

Symptoms sometimes do not appear until decades after the initial exposure.

“STAY SAFE. DO NOT TRAVEL TO WITTENOOM,” is the government’s official advice.

Despite the many warnings, Mr White believes they will continue to be ignored by travellers like himself intent on seeing the town.

“There’s enough signs but I don’t think people are going to read them and not go in [as planned]. Like me, they probably already realise the dangers.”

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Property firm owned by billionaire faces fine after exposing builder during work on a grade II listed building!

The Daily Mail has reported on an asbestos exposure by a company owned by one of Britain’s richest families

A property investment firm owned by one of Britain’s richest families if facing a hefty fine after a builder was exposed to asbestos while working on a Grade II listed building.

Cadogan Estates admitted failing to manage the risk of the deadly substance at Rosetti Studios, Flood Street, Chelsea.

It is owned by Earl Cadogan – whose has a net worth of £5.53billion, according to Forbes.

Prosecutor Harry Vann, said: ‘The initial uncontrolled release took place in the summer of 2015 in Studio 6.

‘Waughman Limited subcontracted this work and a man unwittingly broke into asbestos material which put others at risk.’

But the worker who was exposed to the material has ‘so far shown no signs of illness’, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard.

Cadogan Estates are waiting for their expert to assess the risk, in the type of asbestos and the number of people who may have been exposed when the material was ‘put in a bag and moved elsewhere.’

District Judge Elizabeth Roscoe, said: ‘It is not simply a fall or something that is very easy to see, there are issues and there are concerns with asbestos because of the way it goes through the atmosphere.

‘It does need some opportunity for the defendant to have that input.’

Rosetti Studios, a Grade II listed building, was originally occupied by the Chelsea Art School.

Cadogan Estates and E&J Waughman Limited, an electrical installations company, both admitted failing to ensure or carry out an assessment into the presence of asbestos in the building.

E&J Waughman, whose owner Edward Waughman appeared in court, admitted a further charge of failing to ensure health and safety of an employee.

Sentence was adjourned until June 13, so Cadogan Estates can serve an expert report.

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Manufacturing company and contractor fined after failing to prevent exposure to Asbestos

It is important if unsure of how to safely carry out non-licensed work involving asbestos to either refer to Asbestos essentials or contact a competent individual within the industry. The HSE have reported on a recent case of failing to prevent exposure.

A manufacturing company and contractor have been prosecuted after failing to prevent exposure of workers and others to asbestos whilst cleaning an asbestos cement roof.

Carter Brothers (Rochdale) Ltd contracted Frank Allan, trading as ‘Jet Blast and Maintenance,’ to clean its premises including the asbestos cement roof in September 2016.

Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard that the work to clean the roof was unnecessary and had not been agreed in advance with the landlord of the property.

A Health Safety Executive investigation found that the contractor had failed to identify the risks involved. There were insufficient measures put in place to prevent exposure to asbestos when using an industrial high pressure jet washer to clean a fragile asbestos cement roof. Asbestos was subsequently found in debris around the premises.

Carter Brothers did not select a suitable contractor and did not monitor or supervise the work being carried out by Frank Allan on the roof. If the work was required, the company should have employed a specialist contractor with access to specialist cleaning equipment.

Carter Brothers (Rochdale) Ltd of Fieldhouse Industrial Estate, Rochdale pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £8000 with £3913.94 costs.

Frank Allan T/A Jet Blast and Maintenance of Union Road, Rochdale, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 6 and 11 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and was fined £330 with £3910.94 costs.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Lisa Bailey said:: “The case highlights the importance of following the advice and guidance that is freely available from HSE to prevent the risk of exposure to asbestos to members of the public and workers. Asbestos can cause serious diseases and still kills around 5000 workers per year. If the appropriate control measures had been taken then workers and members of the public would not have been put at risk”

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SSE (Scottish & Southern Energy) Fined After 13 Employees and Contractors Exposed to Asbestos Fibres

The HSE has reported on a recent case.  SSE Hornsea Ltd failed to manage the risks associated with Asbestos.

SSE Hornsea Ltd, operators of a natural gas storage facility near Atwick on the East Yorkshire coast, has been sentenced today after 13 employees and contractors were exposed to asbestos fibres.

Beverley Magistrates’ Court heard that a team of three mechanical maintenance personnel were tasked with the removal of a non-return valve from a compressed air distribution system. Some of the sealing gasket material was difficult to remove so they used a wire brush mounted on an electric drill to remove the gasket material which spread fibres from the gasket around the maintenance workshop onto floors, work benches and clothing.

Two days later another employee of SSE Hornsea Ltd became suspicious of the fibrous dust, and having reported his concerns, arranged for a sample of the dust to be tested. It was found to contain chrysotile (white) asbestos fibres. The maintenance workshop was later closed to prevent access by employees and contractors.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuting told the court that the company had failed to identify in the risk assessment for this job that there were asbestos gaskets attached to the non-return valve. HSE also told the court that records held on site, which could have helped identify the presence of asbestos, were not adequate and that the maintenance team leader involved in this task had not undertaken asbestos awareness training.

SSE Hornsea Ltd of Inveralmond House, 200 Dunkeld Road, Perth pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2 (1) and 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc, Act 1974.

The company has been fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £12,670.72.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Paul Miller said: “In this case SSE Hornsea Ltd substantially failed to manage the risks associated with asbestos found within their process plant and have needlessly risked the future health of 13 people. Employers should ensure that they have in place adequate arrangements for both the identification and management of asbestos which may be found in buildings or process plant.”

“Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fibre which was widely used in both building and engineering materials for its strength, heat and chemical resistance.  This can cause serious diseases including mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis which are often fatal.  These diseases do not have an immediate effect, they often take a long time to develop, but once diagnosed, it is often too late to do anything. HSE’s Go Home Healthy campaign aims to prevent work-related lung disease by ensuring employers and workers have the information they need to work right.

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Claire’s Recalled Make Up Due To Asbestos Concerns

Claire’s recalls make up due to mothers concerns with Asbestos within products! Time have reported on the story.

Claire’s, known for selling accessories and cosmetics targeted to young girls and teenagers, has recalled some of its makeup over asbestos concerns.

The Florida-based retailer first announced the recall a few days before Christmas, after a Rhode Island mother grew concerned about the ingredients in glitter makeup she had purchased for her 6-year-old daughter and sent the samples out for independent testing, NBC 10 News reports.

The Claire’s makeup tested positive for tremolite asbestos, which has been associated with mesothelioma and other types of cancer, prompting the woman — who works at a law firm specializing in asbestos litigation — and her boss to purchase and test products from nine different states, NBC 10 reports. Each one tested positive for tremolite asbestos.

Media attention prompted Claire’s to launch a safety investigation and pull multiple products from its shelves, according to the retailer’s statement. On Wednesday, it updated consumers with a full list of potentially affected products, including various glitter makeup sets, an eye shadow and lip gloss palette and a glitter cell phone makeup compact.

Claire’s has said it will issue refunds for products returned while it conducts a safety investigation.

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On all Hallows Eve we thought we would share this old spooky Hammer House Horror video release by the HSE as part of their 2010 Asbestos Hidden Killer Campaign.

On all Hallows Eve we thought we would share this old spooky Hammer House Horror video release by the HSE as part of their 2010 Asbestos Hidden Killer Campaign. The HSE’s hammer horror video from their recent Hidden Killer Campaign reminds us of the dangers of Asbestos in the workplace.

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Young woman fights Mesothelioma aged just 23 after coming into contact with Asbestos as a child

Woman faces difficult battle with Mesothelioma after coming into contact with Asbestos as a child. The Daily Mail have interviewed her

A 23-year-old woman has developed an asbestos-linked cancer that usually affects elderly males who have worked as builders.

Danielle Smalley faces ‘hot’ chemotherapy that will leave her infertile and the only explanation she can offer for the condition is that she unwittingly ate asbestos when she was a child.

The client relationship manager from Aldershot in Hampshire didn’t even know what the banned heat-resistant substance was until her diagnosis.

‘It’s been such a shock,’ she told the Daily Mirror. ‘I didn’t even know what asbestos was.

‘The type of mesothelioma I have means I’ve ingested it. I could have eaten something at a friend’s house, or in an old shed in the park.

‘It takes 20 years to have an effect, I’d have been two or three when I had it. It’s rare in women, rarer at my age. Usually it’s older men in the building trade.

‘We looked up my primary school, but didn’t find anything. It’s unlikely we’ll ever find out where the asbestos was.

‘I’ve just been incredibly unlucky.’

She faces having her ovaries frozen in one of three similar cases since 2009, with the condition usually affecting male builders aged over 75.

Mother Amanda, 47, and father Simon, 51, who run an alarm-fitting firm, have never knowingly come into contact with the substance, which was banned in 1999.

Doctors at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey discovered tumours behind Danielle’s bowel, after first suspecting irritable bowel syndrome.

Danielle’s organs will be ‘washed’ with heated chemotherapy drugs as she faces surgery to remove the tumours.

She has moved out of her Aldershot home to live with boyfriend Jack in Basingstoke.

‘I’m really scared,’ she said. ‘Am I going to survive? Am I going to be able to have children?

‘Having children isn’t something I thought I’d have to consider at this age. I’m glad I have enough time to freeze my eggs and have that option.

‘My family and my boyfriend have been with my every step. He’s amazing and just says he loves me no matter what.’

There have been just two other cases of the cancer in under-25s since 2009 and more than half of cases hit males over 75.

Cancer Research UK’s Dr Jasmine Just said just five in 100 men survive the cancer for five years or more.

For more information on Peritoneal Mesothelioma visit here

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Director and company fined after unlicensed asbestos removal

Asbestos removal contractor found to be removing Asbestos in an unsafe manner! The HSE has reported on their investigation.

A Wiltshire based asbestos removal company and one of its Directors have been sentenced after removing licensable asbestos materials in an unsafe manner.

Winchester Crown Court heard that on 8 March 2013 the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) received a concern from an employee of a construction company hired to demolish the Forresters Respite Centre in Hythe.

Sarum Asbestos Limited (SAL) had been contracted to conduct an asbestos survey and then arrange for the removal of any identified asbestos material before demolition work could begin on site.

An investigation by the HSE found that Sarum Asbestos Ltd had undertaken similar work in other locations and failed to ensure that this work with asbestos was undertaken in a safe manner by competent personnel. They also failed to undertake further testing on these sites to ensure that the asbestos had been removed safely and as a result placed workers at risk of exposure to asbestos fibres, as well as putting members of the public at risk.

The investigation also found the company’s Director, Jeremy Uphill, ignored the legal requirements for the licensed removal of asbestos containing material.

Sarum Asbestos Limited of Pound Lane, Charlton All Saints, Wiltshire pleaded guilty to the six charges:

  • Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 for the work conducted at Forresters Respite Centre. These charges concern risks to their own operatives and members of the public.
  • The company also pleaded guilty to the same charges for work conducted at Corsham Police Station.
  • Sarum Asbestos Ltd also pleaded guilty of breaching Regulation 11 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 for work conducted at Moonfleet Manor, Weymouth, regarding a failure to control personal exposures to asbestos.
  • It also admitted the same charge for work conducted at Camberwell Reform Church in London.

At Salisbury Crown Court the company has been fined a total of £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £31,000.

Jeremy Uphill of Boyds Road, Pimperne, Dorset also pleaded guilty to the same six charges, and was given a total of six months imprisonment suspended for two years.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Adam Wycherley said: “Both the company and Director have failed to protect their workers and members of the public on a number of occasions and as a result placed them at risk of exposure to asbestos fibres.

“Work with the material the company identified should have been subcontracted to a qualified Licensed asbestos removal company.

“Around 3000 people a year die from asbestos related disease and it is a well-known risk within the construction industry, there is no excuse for putting people at risk when the hazards can be controlled with careful management during work with asbestos containing materials.”

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Waste removal contractor fined after asbestos concerns

Waste Removal contractor not being fully compliant! The HSE has reported on a recent investigation.

A waste removal contractor from Bridgend has been sentenced after undertaking asbestos removal work at two locations without being licensed to do so.

Swansea Magistrates’ Court heard how, on two occasions 1 September and 7 November 2016 Mark John Gibson, who advertised as an asbestos removal service, was contracted to remove asbestos containing materials from properties in Pont Y Clun and Dyffryn Chapel, Caerau.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Mr Gibson (trading as All-Gone Waste) worked with asbestos containing materials that required him to have a licence from the HSE. He did not and has never had a licence issued to him for this purpose.

Mark John Gibson of High View, Bridgend pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 8 (1) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, and Regulations 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He has been fined £1500.00 and ordered to pay costs of £2657.00

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Phil Nicolle said: “Mr Gibson undertook asbestos removal work which he was not licensed to do.

“Asbestos removal must be done by HSE licensed contractors to ensure the highest standards are met to prevent health risks to employees and members of public.”

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Wigan Contractor Fined for Exposing Family to Asbestos

Another UK business fined for not doing enough to prevent Asbestos exposure. The HSE has reported on the recent court case,

A Wigan building contractor has appeared in court after exposing a homeowner and her family to asbestos while carrying out a garage conversion.

Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard that Anthony McGrath, trading as Winstanley Construction, carried out  asbestos removal work during the conversion when he was not licenced to do so and failed to carry out this work in a safe manner resulting in asbestos contamination in the ground floor of the house.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the incident at Bassett Grove, Wigan found Mr McGrath had removed Asbestos Insulating Board ceiling panels from the garage, broken them up, and placed them in the garden for several days.  When the home owner queried what the boards were, she was told it was asbestos, but they were safe and would be removed soon.

After ringing the local council the home owner then contacted a licensed asbestos removal contractor who confirmed that the boards were Asbestos Insulating Board and should be removed under controlled conditions.  Asbestos contamination was found in several areas of the house and the householder was unable to re-enter the house for more than a week while a clean-up operation costing in excess of £12,000 was carried out.

Anthony McGrath of Winstanley Road, Billinge, Wigan pleaded guilty to breaches of Regulation 10 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and Regulation 8 (1) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.He was fined £475 for each breach and ordered to pay a compensation order of £7,500.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector David Norton said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices. Companies and individuals should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards”.

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