Cheltenham demolition firm fined for illegal asbestos removal

A Cheltenham demolition company has been prosecuted after exposing its own workers to dangerous asbestos fibres and illegally removing asbestos waste from a property in Gloucester.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted DA Environmental Services Ltd at Cheltenham Magistrates' Court today (5 Nov) for three breaches of regulations relating to asbestos removal.

The court heard HSE found the firm undertook an asbestos survey before demolishing the building showing it contained a quantity of Asbestos Insulating Board (AIB). The report identified that this would have to be safely removed in a controlled manner before demolition went ahead.

However, during a six-week period in August and September 2011, the building was demolished and asbestos boarding removed by DA Environmental Services' employees, exposing them to potentially significant quantities of asbestos fibres released during the work.

The company did not hold the necessary licence to carry out the asbestos removal and failed to take adequate steps to prevent both exposure to and the spread of asbestos fibres generated by the work. The investigation also found the asbestos debris was not disposed of correctly, potentially extending the risk of exposure and spread of danger into the waste chain.

DA Environmental Services Ltd of Maida Vale Business Centre, Leckhampton, Cheltenham, pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 8, 11 and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. The company was fined a total of £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,452.

Speaking after the prosecution, HSE Inspector Andrew Kingscott said:

"Where material such as asbestos insulating board is identified, it should only be removed by a contractor who holds the necessary licence, in a safe manner and with the necessary control measures. DA Environmental should have appointed an appropriately licensed contractor to remove the materials.

"By undertaking the work themselves they unnecessarily exposed their own workers to the risks associated with significant levels of airborne asbestos fibres and failed to adequately contain their spread.

"Unfortunately, those working in the construction industry are regularly exposed to asbestos materials and the legacy of past exposures is evident in the high numbers of people in the UK who are suffering the fatal effects of uncontrolled exposures to asbestos fibres during their working lives."

Over 3000 people a year die from asbestos related illnesses in the UK. For further information, visit www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos

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British Lung Foundation

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