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Fines imposed for asbestos exposure at former factory in Poole

Date:
18 September 2013

A company in Poole has been fined for safety breaches after exposing workers to potentially fatal asbestos at a disused tile factory in the town.

Poole Investments plc allowed a series of people and workers on to the site in Blandford Road, Poole, despite being aware of the presence of asbestos materials from a survey it commissioned itself.

The Health and Safety Executive, which was alerted, investigated and prosecuted the company at Bournemouth Magistrates’ Court yesterday (17 Sept) for safety failings.

The court heard that the company had agreed to sell redundant plant at the factory site to a local trader. Between October 2010 and the following April the trader unwittingly released asbestos dust and fibres when he demolished part of a disused pottery kiln while removing kiln carts from the site.

In May 2011, Poole Investments commissioned a firm to carry out an asbestos survey but allowed work to take place on site and next to the damaged kiln before the survey was completed in August of that year.

Even after the company received the survey report, which clearly stated asbestos debris was present and that the area should be made out-of-bounds, they allowed workers to continue activities at the premises.

Poole Investments plc, of Anglo Office Park, White Lion Road, Amersham, Buckinghamshire, was fined £60,000 and ordered to pay a further £20,000 in costs after pleading guilty to three breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector, James Powell said:

"Poole Investments plc committed safety failings that led to workers being needlessly exposed to dangerous asbestos dust and fibres.

"They failed to identify that asbestos containing material was present on the site before the work started, resulting in failure to properly manage the work or provide appropriate protection for workers. Worse still, they allowed this work to continue even after they were in possession of a report showing asbestos was present and advising that the area should be made out of bounds.

"Asbestos-related diseases kill more people than any other single work-related cause. All types of asbestos can be dangerous if disturbed. The danger arises when asbestos fibres become airborne. They form a very fine dust. Breathing asbestos dust can cause serious damage to the lungs and cause cancer."

Further information on how to reduce the risk of asbestos can be found on the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos

Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to prevent death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. Regulation 5 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 states: "Every employer shall not undertake work in demolition, maintenance, or any other work which exposes or is liable to expose his employees to asbestos unless he has carried out a suitable and sufficient assessment as to whether asbestos is present and if there is any doubt he assumes that asbestos is present."
  3. Regulation 11 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 states: "Every employer shall prevent the exposure of employees to asbestos so far as is reasonably practicable."
  4. Regulation 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 states: "Every employer shall prevent or, where this is not reasonably practicable, reduce to the lowest level reasonably practicable the spread of asbestos from any place where work under his control is carried out."

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