Fines over Hebridean Princess asbestos exposure

Hebridean Princess The Hebridean Princess was being refurbished at the end of 2009 when workers were exposed to asbestos fibres

A ship management firm and a tour operator have been fined after workers were exposed to asbestos fibres during refurbishment work on board a luxury cruise ship operating in Scotland.

Andrew Weir Shipping and All Leisure Holidays were prosecuted after work was carried out on the Hebridean Princess.

Two men were hired to remove panels and fixings in a ship lounge without an asbestos survey being carried out.

The firms pleaded guilty to regulation breaches at Teesside Magistrates Court.

The court was told the Hebridean Princess, whose routes include the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland, was bought in April 2009 by All Leisure Holidays.

The tour operator took on Edinburgh-based Andrew Weir Shipping to manage the vessel.

Asbestos concerns

In December of that year, two labourers were instructed by Andrew Weir Shipping to begin removing the ceiling and wall panels in the Tiree Lounge while the ship was docked in Middlesbrough.

On the second day, they were told by the shipyard to stop work over concerns there was asbestos behind the ceiling panels.

Tests confirmed asbestos fibres were present.

The Health and Safety Executive found that Andrew Weir Shipping held an asbestos survey from 2008 which identified asbestos behind some ceiling panels in another part of the ship.

The court heard this should have alerted them to the potential for asbestos to be present elsewhere.

All Leisure Holidays Ltd was given a copy of the 2008 survey when they purchased the ship but failed to identify that it was incomplete and was insufficient to allow the work to be carried out.

Guilty pleas

Andrew Weir Shipping, of Atholl Crescent, Edinburgh, was fined a total of £12,000 and ordered to pay £5,829 costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.

All Leisure Holidays Ltd, of Burgess Hill, West Sussex, also pleaded guilty and was fined a total of £6,000 and ordered to pay £5,640 costs.

After the case, HSE Inspector Victoria Wise, said: "All Leisure Holidays Ltd and Andrew Weir Shipping Ltd both failed to ensure that a suitable and sufficient assessment was made of the risk created by the presence of asbestos and therefore did not take the steps required in order to comply with the regulations.

"As a result the two men inadvertently disturbed the asbestos and spread the fibres. In doing so they were potentially exposed to a substance that is known to cause diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma."

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