The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has prosecuted a construction company for asbestos failings.
Barroerock Construction Limited was converting a former nine-storey office building in Ashford, Kent into flats. The building was known to contain asbestos, but the first investigation arose from a routine inspection during one of HSE’s refurbishment campaigns.
HSE found that, while a refurbishment and demolition (R&D) survey had been carried out, the company had failed to act upon it, resulting in up to 40 workers being exposed to asbestos during the early demolition phase of the project.
The second investigation culminated in an HSE visit to the site in June 2014, following complaints being made about the health and safety practices at the site.
It was found that, despite engaging a licensed asbestos contractor to remove the remaining asbestos materials, dangerous practices were continuing. In addition, the company was unable to provide documentation to show that asbestos materials identified in the survey had been correctly removed.
When work on site was halted for the second time, around 160 people were working inside the building.
It was found in both HSE investigations that these incidents could have been prevented if Barroerock had ensured they had effective management controls in place to avoid the risk of exposure to asbestos.
At Canterbury Crown Court, Barroerock Construction Limited of Langley House Park Road, East Finchley in London was fined £750,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,874.68.
The company had pleaded guilty to two offences of breaching Regulation 22 (1) (a) of the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2007 at an earlier hearing.
After sentencing, HSE inspector Melvyn Stancliffe said:
“The company’s failings in this case has put many workers at risk to the exposure of asbestos.
“It was clear there was an endemic failure to effectively manage the construction work on the site in a way which ensured that asbestos materials were not disturbed until removed under appropriate conditions.
“Failing to prevent the breathing in of asbestos fibres on the site is reckless.”
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