Dangers of asbestos fibres
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have warned companies to take extra care when demolishing buildings which contain asbestos cement sheets.
Wye Valley Demolition Ltd of St Weonards, Hereford, demolished a former grain store building at Chapel lane Bodenham, in June 2004. The building contained asbestos cement sheets which should have been removed under controlled conditions, however, instead of this happening, the company smashed the building to the ground using a machine. The asbestos fibres then spread over the demolition site.
On 18 May, 2007, Wye Valley Demolition Ltd was fined £6,000 and asked to pay costs of £13,621.49 at Hereford Magistrates® Court for pleading guilty to breaches of Regulation 10 and Regulations 15 of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002.
HSE Principal Inspector for Construction, Joy Jones, said that people in the construction industry need to exercise caution when working in areas that may contain asbestos.
Asbestos should not be treated lightly as it causes over 3,500 deaths in Britain each year, with annual numbers predicted to rise in the next decade.
Asbestos solicitor comments
David Cass, solicitor at Leading Law firm Irwin Mitchell said: The recent HSE warning reflects the significant legacy of the extremely widespread use of asbestos in construction in the past. Even today, asbestos is found in many buildings, and demolition workers as well as electricians, plumbers, joiners and others regularly come into contact with it.
Familiar reports of cases like that of Wye Valley Demolition Limited readily demonstrate a continuing problem in the demolition industry. They also suggest that there are still employers which are prepared to place economic considerations ahead of concern about the very real and continuing risks faced by their employees.
Sadly, despite heightened awareness of the danger of exposure to asbestos, it seems likely there will be people exposed at work today who may well go on to develop asbestos-related disease in the future.
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