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Firm fined for failing to communicate asbestos risk
Published:  09 May, 2014

Battersea building firm Redwood Contractors was fined yesterday, after failing to highlight the known presence of asbestos when insulating board at a Berkshire warehouse.

The firm was in possession of a detailed asbestos survey that clearly identified the location of the asbestos wall panels inside the building at Molly Millars Close in Wokingham, however, the survey wasn’t shared with the team on the ground. A foreman mistook the asbestos insulated board (AIB) for asbestos cement – a lower-risk material – and it was removed without adequate control measures and protective equipment.

The communication breakdown was identified by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted Redwood Contractors yesterday after investigating the contamination of the warehouse in December 2011.

Reading Magistrates’ Court heard that AIB should only be removed by a licensed asbestos contractor because of the risk of exposure to the dangerous fibres contained within it.

Redwood Contractors of Battersea Rise, London, was fined a total of £10,000 and ordered to pay £2,857 in costs after pleading guilty to two separate breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Karen Morris said: “It is disappointing that the foreman and others were needlessly put at risk simply because the asbestos survey for the warehouse wasn’t supplied to the team on the ground, or the location of the AIB relayed.

“What is the point of having a suitable survey in hand if you aren’t going to act on it and share vital information with those who need to know? Sadly, breakdowns in communication of this kind are all too common, but that doesn’t excuse Redwood Contractors from failing to do more.

“The company is guilty of a clear oversight that may have compromised the future health and wellbeing of its workers. Everyone knows that asbestos is a potential killer, and the onus is on duty holders to implement proper control measures at all times when dealing with asbestos.”

Information on working safely with asbestos can be found online at www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos