Glass Firm Fined £20,000 Over Asbestos Safety Failings

‘Around 200 People’ Potentially Exposed To Deadly Material


North East glass firm Romag Ltd has been fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs after around 200 workers and visitors were potentially exposed to asbestos fibres at its premises in Consett in July 2011.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident, which was believed to be triggered when two subcontracted fire alarm installers were working at the Princess Building and unknowingly drilled through an asbestos insulation panel while installing fire sensors after being told the material was not present.

They then used a domestic vacuum cleaner to clean up the debris and also used the same machine in other parts of the building, spreading fibres in the process.

Consett Magistrates’ Court heard the asbestos disturbance was discovered the next day but no action was taken for at least nine more days, despite health and safety advisors calling for the relevant areas to be locked down.

According to the HSE, the inaction meant 180 workers and 16 visitors were at risk of exposure to asbestos.

Expert Opinion
This is a particularly shocking example of the terrible consequences that failing to properly acknowledge asbestos safety regulations can have. The problems seen in this case mean 200 innocent people may have been exposed to asbestos through no fault of their own.

“The dangers of asbestos have been well known now for many years so inaction on the issue is simply not an option. It is vital that workers are given all of the information they need to carry out work safely, particularly regarding the presence of asbestos and the action they need to take to minimise the risk of fibres being released.

“We would urge employers in all sectors to recognise the awful issues highlighted in this case and ensure the same circumstances are simply never repeated again.”
Roger Maddocks, Partner