A Warrington-based construction company has been fined £90,000 after exposing people to asbestos during a renovation project in Stoke-on-Trent.
Nathan Cook, prosecuting on behalf of the HSE told Staffordshire Magistrates’ Court how significant amounts of asbestos-containing debris was found to the front and rear of the building under refurbishment.
An HSE inspector served two Prohibition Notices and a licensed asbestos removal contractor was then appointed to carry out a clean-up operation.
Further investigation by HSE found that Esskay Construction Ltd had failed to appoint a competent person to carry out a refurbishment and demolition asbestos survey of the premises prior to carrying out work on site.
The company then allowed refurbishment to commence without knowing where the asbestos containing materials were, resulting in them being disturbed and potentially exposing workers and members of the public to harmful asbestos fibres.
Esskay Construction Ltd of Warrington, Cheshire, failed to attend court but were found guilty in their absence of breaching safety regulations and were fined £90,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,009 and a victim surcharge of £190.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Will Gretton said: “Asbestos is a class 1 carcinogen which is known to kill around 20 tradesmen each week. Carelessness at this scale, met with a failure to attend court, is unacceptable.
“For that reason, any building constructed prior to the year 2000 must be assessed for the presence of asbestos prior to any disturbance work taking place, and any asbestos containing materials must be left undisturbed or be removed by a competent contractor under controlled conditions.
“By failing to take these simple steps, Esskay Construction Ltd put workers and members of the public at risk of being exposed to a substance known to cause fatal illnesses including mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.”