A Portsmouth demolition firm faced criminal charges in court today (31 March) after stripping more than 50 metres of potentially-deadly asbestos board without a license and potentially putting workers at risk.
James Site Services Ltd, of Cosham, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after Inspectors carried out a routine visit to a small site under development in Fareham, Hampshire.
Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court was told the company, which specialises in site preparation, had been hired to undertake a ‘soft strip’ and other preparatory tasks before construction work started.
HSE discovered the firm had illegally removed 54 metres of asbestos insulation board from a bungalow that was due to be refurbished despite it not holding a licence to remove asbestos containing materials (ACMs).
The HSE investigation found James Site Services had correctly commissioned a survey to identify the presence of ACMs, which advised it to seek a licensed contractor. HSE said the firm chose to ignore the findings and carried out the work themselves – possibly exposing their workers to the dangerous fibres.
James Site Services Ltd, of Spur Road, Cosham, Hampshire, was fined a total of £500 with £1,000 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Dominic Goacher said:
“This was a serious failing on the part of the company. Having received the survey they asked for, it looks as though no one at James Site Services bothered to read it. Of, if they did, they disregarded its contents and failed to act to protect workers from possible exposure to one of the deadly killers in industry.
“HSE operates a highly-regulated license regime in order to ensure work with asbestos is carried out safely by a skilled, competent workforce. By taking the work on, James Site Services not only put their workers at risk but also gained an unfair financial advantage over those contractors subject to this regime and who invest considerable time and money to achieve licensed status.
“It is vital companies are fully aware of not just the duty to get an asbestos survey done, but then to act on its findings. There is considerable free guidance from HSE to help.”
Asbestos-related guidance is available at http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos
Notes to Editors:
1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
2. Regulation 8(1) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 states: “An employer must hold a licence granted under paragraph (2) before undertaking any licensable work with asbestos.”