Laboratory Testing Firm in the North East Ignores Asbestos Recommendations of its own Asbestos Surveying Sister Company./ 24 April 2012 / No Comments
A Tyneside laboratory testing firm, Exova (UK) Ltd, has been fined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for knowingly exposing its workers to asbestos.
Exova Ltd are an accredited asbestos surveying and sampling company. They surveyed their own laboratory in 2008, identifying damaged asbestos in two areas of the site. The laboratory was advised that the asbestos needed to be removed, repaired or sealed off.
A second survey was carried out in February 2010 identifying that the laboratory had not made any action towards the previous recommendations and crucially that workers were still being exposed to the damaged asbestos.
If in a reasonable condition, asbestos can be managed or encapsulated without the need for removal. Asbestos becomes hazardous when it is disturbed, as loose fibres become airborne and can be breathed into the lungs, where they are known to cause lung cancers.
When the HSE visited the site on 15th July 2010, the inspectors found that no efforts had been made to remove the asbestos and employees were continuing the access and work in the areas where asbestos was present.
HSE inspector Andrew Woodhall said: “Exova (UK) Ltd used its own internal, industry-accredited asbestos testing company to undertake surveys, but then failed to take the recommended action despite knowing their employees worked in at-risk areas. Anyone who is responsible for non-domestic premises, such as, factories must take reasonable steps to find if there are materials containing asbestos in their premises. They should then prepare a plan on how they will manage the risks and take the necessary steps to put those plans into action. Exova failed to take the majority of these steps and needlessly and inexplicably chose to put its employees at risk.”
They appeared in court on 4th April 2012 and pleaded guilty to breaching reg. 4(9)(c), reg 4(10)(b) and reg.16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. It was fined £12,000 for each offence and ordered to pay £8,000 in costs.