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Fines Issued After Asbestos Safety Failings In Refurbishment Project

Expert Comments On HSE Prosecution


Employers need to learn lessons from a case which has seen a freight firm, its managing director and a contractor prosecuted after people were exposed to asbestos during a refurbishment project, an asbestos specialist at Irwin Mitchell has urged.

Avon Freight Group, managing director Simon Poole and builder Ronald McPhee were fined in relation to the incident at a unit in Redditch which was being converted into a new storage centre and headquarters for the company.

A survey commissioned by AFG’s architect revealed asbestos board was in several walls, but Mr Poole instructed Mr MacPhee to do the work between April and May 2008 despite him not having a licence.

Months later, two other companies visited the site and discovered pieces of asbestos board on the floor. A subsequent investigation revealed at least 20 people may have inhaled asbestos fibres.

Alida Coates, a Partner and expert in asbestos-related illness at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office, said that the prosecutions in relation to the incident demonstrated how seriously the issue is taken.

She said: “Guidelines and regulations are in place regarding the removal and management of asbestos for the simple reason of keeping workers and members of the public safe.

“We act for people who have been exposed to asbestos as a result of safety failings, we also act for  the families of victims who have died as a result of the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma, so have seen first-hand the terrible consequences that exposure to asbestos can have.

“Employers need to remember just how important it is that asbestos is managed in a safe manner.  Failure to do so can have fatal consequences."