Global Asbestos Awareness Week – Fine for two companies following asbestos investigation in Surrey

The HSE has reported on recent case,

Two companies have been fined after unsafe asbestos work was carried out on a property in Leatherhead, Surrey.

Staines Magistrates’ Court heard how Kingsley Asbestos Services Limited (KAS), although a licensed asbestos removal contractor, was sub contracted by Bourne Valley Construction Services Limited (BVCS) to carry out the work.

KAS removed some asbestos containing materials and agreed to carry out repair works on other water damaged materials within the properties. During works to cut away damaged wall coverings in the kitchen, one of the workers cut into a pale coloured board which after subsequent testing proved it to be Asbestos Insulation Board.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found BVCS failed to plan the work and pass on information to KAS. It was the responsibility of both BVCS and KAS to arrange for a refurbishment and demolition survey. As a consequence work was carried out without establishing the location, presence and extent of asbestos containing materials on site.

HSE Inspector Rebekah Dunn said:  “Asbestos still kills around 5000 workers each year and around 20 tradesmen die each week as a result of past exposure.

“BVCS were in control of the works and should have provided information identified in such a survey or assessment regarding the presence of asbestos to KAS as their sub-contractor.”

Bourne Valley Construction Services Ltd of Salisbury, Wiltshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13 (2) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007, was fined £8000 and ordered to pay full costs.

Kingsley Asbestos Services Ltd of Ferring in Worthing pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 (1) (a) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, was fined £6000 and ordered to pay full costs.

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Global Asbestos Awareness Week – Swansea Council still hoping for money back from surveyors after £4m bill

Wales Online have reported,

Council chiefs in Swansea have said they are still in discussions with the company which surveyed the Oceana building before large amounts of asbestos were found, sending costs spiralling upwards.

The Post understands this could potentially lead to the authority receiving some money from Santia, which spent six weeks surveying The Kingsway site prior to submitting a report.

“This is a complex case, so we’re still considering our options,” said a council spokesman.

At a meeting last November, the council’s property development manager Huw Mowbray said the survey had only identified 10 per cent of the asbestos that was subsequently discovered in the council-owned building, adding that the survey did not contain caveats to suggest more asbestos might be present.

Demolition costs subsequently soared from £1.18 million to £4.1 million, including fees.

These costs had been leaked to the press the previous month, causing a headache for the administration, which was concerned that the airing of the confidential report could restrict the council’s contractor options.

Council leader Rob Stewart told a cabinet meeting that an investigation would take place to try to identify who leaked the report as it was, he said, a breach of the council’s code of conduct.

The Post asked what the upshot was of this investigation. A council spokesman said: “We are not aware how this confidential report got into the public domain.”

The Oceana matter has been looked at by the council’s scrutiny programme committee in the past few weeks, but time is limited before May’s local Government elections.

Committee chairwoman Mary Jones, who had been very keen for the committee to look into the case, told the Post that a working group would normally be set up. But she said in this instance a meeting was held behind closed doors, due to the commercially-sensitive nature of the discussions.

“It was a very good meeting,” she said. “We are a cross-party committee, and asked some very searching questions.”

Mrs Jones said a letter outlining the committee’s views would be sent to Mr Stewart. “We will expect a response,” she said.

The Welsh Government is funding the original demolition cost, but the £2.9 million shortfall is due to be funded by council borrowing.

The administration had planned to move its Civic Centre staff to new offices at the Oceana site, but it now wants to create a “digital district” there for high-tech companies. This should lever in funding from the £1.3 billion City Deal signed off by Theresa May last week.

Civic Centre staff , meanwhile, are set to move to a new base opposite the Grand Theatre.

Speaking at the cabinet meeting when Mr Stewart ordered the leak investigation, Councillor Jennifer Raynor said the administration had “very strong legal and moral duty” to deal responsibly with the asbestos situation.

“It would be entirely incorrect to walk away from this building, putting people at further risk,” she said.

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Pupils had to be ‘hosed down’ over asbestos risk as school building crumbled

The Sunderland Echo has reported,

Students had to be sent to an emergency van to be cleaned when suspected asbestos dust fell on them from their school building. The extent of the problems at Hetton School’s old site was laid bare before the House of Commons as its acting headteacher and its former headteacher told its Public Accounts Committee about the problems they faced while waiting for it to be rebuilt.

The plans to rebuild the school – one of several which were proposed across Wearside and East Durham because they were in such a bad state of repair – was hit by a delay following the collapse of the deal that was meant to financially back the project.

The project was finally complete in September.

Acting headteacher Craig Knowles and former headteacher Phil Keay presented evidence to MPs as the meeting looked at capital spending for schools and scrutinised the Department for Education and Education Funding Agency on whether they delivered effectively on buildings.

The appearance by the school’s leaders was organised by Houghton and Sunderland South MP Bridget Phillipson, who sits on the committee.

The session heard how the old school’s state led it to being shut on several occasions and a series of safety measures being drafted in to keep children safe while waiting for the project to begin.

The committee was told that while asbestos was largely concealed within the building, windy weather would cause tiles to move and dust to fall.

The school representatives said this meant time was lost in the classroom for children when it had to be closed because of structural problems, as well as times when its heating system was not working.

Mr Keay said: “Some ceiling tiles were taped together so therefore should have been secure, but on windy days wind would get through the building and through open doors and the ceilings would lift.

“We had two or three cases we had to close off the school and students had to in fact had to go into the de-fumigation van, an emergency van, to make sure they were de-dusted and hosed down and cleaned, and it really was that serious.

“Obviously parents were informed, the emergency services and so on, but it was not a building that was fit to have children in it for several years really, prior to its closure and us moving to the new building.”

Mr Knowles spoke of how in September, the school moved into its new building.

He said: “The impact on the students is that they can now actually go about their learning with a mental readiness that previously wasn’t the case.

“Perhaps before, when they would have had to come in from the rain and keep their coats on because of the lack of heating, and have those kind of issues, where they were just trying to go about their work to learn, they’re not there any more.

“We do have a good new building, it’s not without its continuing issues, but all those issues that I’ve mentioned they’re not there any more.

“It’s a fantastic environment for young people to go about their work, to progress, to achieve and it’s great for the staff was well, because they can have confidence in their preparation and what they are trying to achieve.”

After the meeting, and via the school’s website, Mr Knowles said it had been a “great opportunity” to speak to MPs and members of the department and the agency. He added: “As a school we have a fantastic building that , although not without its faults, is a great environment for students and staff to develop in.”

“However, we have had unforeseen costs this year that we believe should have formed part of contingency within the EFA budget and have now fallen on the school. “These costs have to be found from our depleted revenue budget and therefore means we have less to spend on our real priorities of high quality teachers in every classroom, supported by high quality non-teaching staff. “Despite these difficulties we have a clear plan for the school’s future that will allow us to continue to prosper as a good school.”

Mr Knowles added: “One thing for sure, the future is bright at Hetton School, because we prioritise the most important thing – putting our students first” The committee also heard £7billion is needed to bring the country’s school sites up to a decent standard and that amount again to make them a “good standard.”

There is also an issue over the demand for school places, with 420,000 more places needed by 2021, with the Government’s push on free schools to be factored in schools’ estates.

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Asbestos removal firm fined after poor safety practices

The HSE has reported on a recent case of health and safety failings,

Midlands based firm Enviro-Safe Limited have been fined for failing to meet the standards required when removing asbestos.

Birmingham Magistrates Court heard how the company failed to protect their employees from the spread of asbestos fibres during the removal work at separate projects. The company had failed to protect their workers and exposed them to the risk of developing a form of cancer related to asbestos (Carcinogen).

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Enviro-Safe Limited failed to adequately assess the risk involved with the removal of asbestos material and as a result exposed its employees and others to asbestos. This risk would have been prevented by the use of enclosures which would have protected the workers from risk of asbestos fibres

Speaking after the case HSE inspector Amy Kalay said “Exposure to asbestos fibres is extremely dangerous to people’s health and the company failed to adopt the safety measures that are required to prevent the risk to their employees and others.”

Envrio-Safe Limited of Stratford Street North, Birmingham pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 16 Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and have been fined £16,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7731.13

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National Toast Day

On National Toast Day what could be more inviting than a gold crunchy slice of toast made in an Toaster containing Asbestos.  Did you know that toasters manufactured in the 1950s, 60s and 70s contained asbestos which was used to provide heat insulation as well as providing electrical insulation around the cord of the toaster.

So before you admire the trendy looking retro style toaster at your local antique shop or fair remember it could contain asbestos.

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Vivienne believes washing her husband’s asbestos-ridden clothes gave her cancer.

ITV News have interviewed Vivienne Swain who washed her husbands asbestos-ridden clothes during his career as a joiner,

A woman believes her fatal lung cancer was caused by washing her late husband’s asbestos-ridden clothes.

Vivienne Swain’s spouse Michael Power worked as a joiner for Manchester council from 1969 to 1977.

The council will only compensate Vivienne if she finds witnesses to support her claims that Michael, known as Mick, worked with asbestos, her solicitors said. Mick died from brain disease in his early forties.

“It seems cruel”, mum-of-three Vivienne said.

“This is going back 40 years, and now the onus is on me to prove that he worked with asbestos. I would shake the overalls before washing them and they would be heavy with dust – so much so that it would cover the kitchen floor. “I’d have to sweep it up. I believe these were asbestos fibres.”

– VIVIENNE SWAIN

Vivienne, 60, from Rochdale, can’t get government compensation for asbestos victims because she did not work directly with the killer material.

She has already had four rounds of chemotherapy. She says her only hope now is immunotherapy, but it is not available on the NHS and she cannot afford it without funding.

Her second husband Peter Swain also worked with asbestos while he was a joiner for Trains of Rochdale, Vivienne says. Peter died from kidney cancer in 2006. Vivienne’s lawyer is still hunting for Trains of Rochdale’s insurers in hope of a payout.

Vivienne first went to the doctor in May 2015 after getting breathless while climbing stairs. An X-ray revealed a third of her lung had collapsed. Three months of tests followed at Fairfield General Hospital and Wythenshawe Hospital before her diagnosis of incurable mesothelioma. When doctors told her she only had three years to live, Vivienne replied: “I guarantee you I’ll still be here in five.”

The diagnosis was ‘a hell of a shock’, says Vivienne, having always been fit and healthy. Telling her three sons was ‘the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do’, she says. Her sons asked if they had a ‘ticking timebomb’ waiting for them too, since they were at home when their father returned from work every day in his overalls.

Her youngest son Todd, 26, was expecting his first baby and Vivienne was determined to meet her grand-child. Amelia is now 13 months old – and Vivienne hopes to survive to see her first day at school.

“What upsets me most is that I’m not only not going to be here for my own children, but for my grandchildren. But I look forward all the time. I don’t look back. I’m just unlucky that both my husbands were joiners, and both worked with asbestos. I don’t feel as if I have time for anger. I just feel passionate about raising awareness about mesothelioma.”

She cannot bear to tell her 85-year-old mother, who has vascular dementia, about her fatal diagnosis. Vivienne avoided seeing her during her chemo in case her mother realised she was unwell.

Vivienne said: “Government after government have known the dangers of asbestos but they have been swept under the carpet.”

Vivienne goes to The Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group every month with 20 fellow sufferers.

Her case is ‘a tragic example of how this killer dust devastates individual lives and entire families’, says her solicitor Steven Dickens, an asbestos disease specialist at Thompsons Solicitors.

A spokesperson for Manchester council said: “It is always deeply regrettable when anybody has contracted mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related illness, but it would be inappropriate for us to comment on this case at the present time.”

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Simon tells his story of living with Mesothelioma

I had the pleasure of meeting Simon and his wife Zana recently.  In this video produced by CITB Simon tells his story of living with Mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that can be caused by breathing in asbestos fibres. There is currently no cure for mesothelioma – it is a terminal disease. Over 5000 people per year still die from Asbestos related diseases, that is more than die on UK roads every year. Please share this video with colleagues, friends and family to help raise awareness of this everyday hazard which is all too easily forgotten. More information on working safely and managing the risks from asbestos is available from the Health and Safety Executive.  The film is also available to watch and share on CITB’s YouTube channel.

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Essex companies fined after workers exposed to asbestos

The HSE has reported on a recent case,

Two Essex-based companies have been fined after exposing workers to potentially deadly asbestos over a period of years, despite being alerted to the risks at their premises.

Basildon Crown Court heard that asbestos was found in poor condition when Connect Packaging Ltd moved into industrial units in Manor Road Trading Estate, Benfleet in 2007, but that it failed to act to control risk. As a result, its employees were exposed to risk from airborne asbestos fibres.

When Connect Packaging Ltd moved out of the units in January 2009, it sublet them to Creo Retail Marketing Ltd, another company within its group, but continued to exercise some control over maintenance and repair work at the premises.

In 2014, Creo Retail Marketing Ltd undertook its own asbestos survey following the appointment of a new health and safety officer. This confirmed continuing risk of exposure to airborne asbestos fibres from sources including poorly-enscapsulated blue asbestos (crocidolite).

Despite this, workers remained exposed to these risks while the companies debated their responsibility for its removal and failed to act effectively to prevent exposure.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation and its scientists found asbestos fibres at locations including the workers’ clocking-in point, on rafters above work areas, and within a stationery cupboard.

When asbestos fibres become airborne, they can be inhaled, and these tiny fibres are known to cause respiratory diseases and cancers which can be fatal. The court heard that workers at both companies were exposed to risk over an extended period of time.

Connect Packaging Ltd, registered at 91 Soho Hill, Birmingham was fined £65,000 and ordered to pay £8,150.23 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of Section 4 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Creo Retail Marketing Ltd, registered at 350 Euston Road, London, was fined £150,000 and ordered to pay £8,149.63 in costs after pleading guilty to breaches of Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Nikki Hughes said:

“Connect Packaging Ltd is now under new ownership but while it held the tenants- repairing-lease on the rented units it had a legal duty to manage asbestos within these non-domestic premises, as did its sub-tenant, Creo Retail Marketing Ltd.

“After this asbestos was identified, both companies should have acted promptly and effectively to control the potentially lethal risk to which their workers were exposed. Asbestos-related disease has a long latency period, so we cannot predict the consequences this failure to manage asbestos may have on their workers’ health.

“This prosecution should act as a reminder to all persons in control of the repair and maintenance of non-domestic premises of the need to ensure that the correct control measures are put in place to prevent exposure to asbestos, so far as is reasonably practicable.”

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Analyst fined for falsifying asbestos documents.

The HSE has reported about a recent case in which they have been investigating,

An asbestos analyst has been fined after he falsified an asbestos air clearance certificate, following licensed asbestos removal in Manchester.

Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Manchester and Salford Court House, heard how, on 19th November 2015, Mr Barrie Lyons, a well-trained asbestos analyst with 29 years of experience, was contracted to carry out the final inspection and air testing, following asbestos removal at a construction site in central Manchester.

Mr Lyons’ task included a thorough examination of the area where asbestos had been removed from, within the defined enclosure itself and the areas surrounding it. He also had a series of air samples to collect and evaluate, to ensure that the air was substantially free of asbestos.

The investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that Mr Lyons had failed to carry out a suitable inspection of the site and had not carried out the correct amount of air sampling, despite his report to his employer and the client indicating that he had. In effect, Mr Lyons had deliberately falsified his report and so his published results could no longer be relied upon. The asbestos removal contractor had no option but to have a second clearance test carried out which incurred significant delays and additional expense.

HSE inspector Matthew Greenly said after the hearing: “Asbestos analysts play a vital role in ensuring that areas are safe to enter after asbestos is removed. Mr Lyons sadly chose on this occasion to falsify his records which was a massive abuse of the trust placed in him by the client.

“This deliberate act increased the risk of numerous people potentially being exposed to asbestos, a risk Mr Lyons would be very well aware of from his experience, all to save a little time and finish the job early.

“It is hoped that the industry uses this case as a reminder that anyone involved in asbestos removal must do everything reasonable to protect people from a material which causes around 4000 deaths per year in the UK.”

Mr Barrie Lyons, of Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 7(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £2000 and ordered to pay costs of £3905.73

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Mesothelioma UK Winter Newsletter

Mesothelioma UK produces a seasonal newsletter to keep readers up to date with the latest news stories and peoples personal stories. Follow this link to download and read Mesothelioma UK Winter Newsletter

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