Property firm fined over asbestos exposure
Posted by Nicole Stevens.
The importance of health and safety signage has been highlighted after a Halifax property firm was fined after workers were exposed to asbestos fibres.
MA Estates Limited, based in Holmfield, which owns and runs a factory in the town, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for failing to adequately manage the removal of material containing asbestos when the building's roof was replaced in July 2007.
Up to 15 employees from two businesses were stripping materials from support beams as part of their work to upgrade the roof, Halifax Magistrates' Court heard.
The employees were all part of the same group as MA Estates and were occupants of the factory.
A local business complained to the HSE when it saw the work being carried out, suspecting the stripped materials could contain asbestos fibres. This was confirmed when the regulator tested the materials.
The HSE found the company did not undertake an asbestos survey or risk assessment, did not have a licence for asbestos removal, and had not given staff any training in how to remove the mineral, leaving them exposed.
MA Estates was fined £30,100 and ordered to pay £2,475 in costs.
"The dangers of asbestos should never be underestimated and are well known in the property industry and beyond. For a company to put workers at this level of risk shows a total disregard for their safety and welfare," HSE inspector Rachel Brittain said.
"I can't stress enough how important it is for anyone carrying out building work to obtain the proper asbestos surveys and then act upon them."
According to the HSE, asbestos causes an estimated 4,000 work-related deaths in the UK every year.
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