Workers exposed to deadly asbestos court hears

A property management company was fined £30,100 today after admitting a series of offences which led to workers being exposed to asbestos fibres.

MA Estates Limited of Holmfield, Halifax, the owner and landlord of a factory building in Holdsfield Road, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for failing to properly manage the removal of asbestos-containing materials when employees were replacing a roof at the factory in June 2007.

Halifax Magistrates' Court was told that up to 15 employees from two businesses, both part of the same group as MA Estates and both occupants of the building, were working to upgrade the roof.

This included stripping materials from support beams which, when later tested by HSE, were found to contain asbestos in limpet/spray form.

A local business complained to HSE after seeing the stripped materials, suspecting that they included asbestos fibres. After visiting the premises, HSE served a Prohibition Notice on MA Estates to stop work immediately.

The HSE investigation found the company had failed to carry out an asbestos survey or risk assessment, had no licence to remove asbestos, had given staff no instruction or training in removing it, and had left workers exposed - with no attempts to limit the spread of asbestos or exposure to it.

HSE inspector, Rachel Brittain, said: "The dangers of asbestos should never be underestimated and are well known in the property industry and beyond. For a company to put workers at this level of risk shows a total disregard for their safety and welfare.

"I can't stress enough how important it is for anyone carrying out building work to obtain the proper asbestos surveys and then act upon them."

MA Estates Limited pleaded guilty to seven charges under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was also ordered to pay £2,475.40p in costs.

Luke Walsh

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