Asbestos removal firm Angus Group fined £109,000

Aaron Morby 10 years ago
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A specialist asbestos removal contractor has been fined after exposing workers to dangerous fibres during demolition of a former school building in Lincoln.

A court heard that Paisley firm Angus Group failed to properly manage the removal of asbestos-containing materials at the site of the former Ermine Infants’ School.

Health and Safety Executive inspectors discovered a catalogue of safety breaches in 2012.

Lincoln Magistrates’ Court found Angus Group guilty of eight breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006, and fined it £109,000 and £42,100 in costs.

Angus Group were sub-contracted to carry out the asbestos removal work on behalf of the contractors demolishing the school, owned by Lincolnshire County Council.

A survey carried before work began found the end walls of the school’s main hall were covered in a spray-applied coating of asbestos, and should be removed by a licensed contractor under safe, controlled conditions.

HSE’s investigations found these recommendations were ignored by Angus Group.

The asbestos spray coating on the main hall walls was chiseled off using power tools without any screens, enclosures or air extraction systems in place.

Asbestos-containing material was bagged and carried to a skip outside.

Angus Group notified the main contractors that the asbestos removal work on the main hall was finished.

But when the project agents and main contractors visited the next day, they found the hall covered in dust and patches of asbestos material still on the wall.

The court heard that HSE found a catalogue of failings in the way the work had been planned and carried out.

Risk assessments were too generic; containment measures were inadequate; access and transit routes through the buildings were unclear and employees lacked specific instruction.

HSE experts concluded the company’s safeguards to control the asbestos risks were seriously inadequate leading to an unnecessary release and spread of dangerous asbestos fibres and dust.

The plan and risk assessment for the asbestos removal work in the building’s boiler room were also found to be confused and a decontamination unit was not powered.

HSE served a prohibition notice to halt the work on the boiler room until the unit was properly powered and working.

Fifteen of the 17 samples taken in and around the hall proved positive for asbestos. A later analysis, which included other parts of the building, found asbestos fibres in 15 of 34 samples, indicating asbestos had spread throughout the building.

HSE inspector Martin Giles said: “Angus Group Ltd is an experienced licensed contractor, and was fully aware of all the hazards and all its responsibilities to ensure safety at all times.

“It is deplorable a company that does know better failed to properly manage the dangers of this hidden killer.”

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