Asbestos removal firm Angus Group Ltd fined £109,000
- 27 May 2014
- From the section Scotland business
A Paisley-based asbestos removal company has been fined more than £100,000 for exposing workers to dangerous fibres while demolishing a former school building.
A court heard Angus Group Ltd did not properly manage the removal of asbestos-containing materials from the former Ermine Infants' School, Lincoln.
The Health and Safety Executive discovered the safety breaches in 2012.
Angus Group was fined £109,000 and ordered to pay £42,100 in costs.
It was found guilty at Lincoln Magistrates' Court of eight breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 relating to the incident in March 2012.
Angus Group were sub-contracted to carry out the asbestos removal work on behalf of the contractors demolishing the school, which was owned by Lincolnshire County Council.
A survey carried out before work began found the end walls of the school's main hall were covered in a spray-applied coating of asbestos, and should therefore be removed by a licensed contractor under safe, controlled conditions.
'Catalogue of failings'
Investigations by HSE concluded that these recommendations were ignored by Angus Group.
The asbestos spray coating on the main hall walls was chiselled 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.
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.
Fifteen of the 17 samples taken in and around the hall proved positive for asbestos.
A subsequent analysis, which included other parts of the building, found asbestos fibres in 15 of 34 samples, indicating asbestos had spread throughout the building.
Speaking after the hearing, 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."