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A building contractor in the South West has been found guilty of breaching health and safety laws by exposing its workers to asbestos.

Bath Magistrates Court heard that Geoff Thomas and Son Ltd let two of its workers demolish a ceiling without first checking to see if the cancer-causing material was present.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation also found that once the material was discovered, the firm failed to take action to prevent the lethal fibres from spreading and assigned the employees to other tasks – without their workwear being decontaminated first.

The firm, which does not hold an asbestos handling license and did not contact the HSE, pleaded guilty under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. The firm was handed a £5,000 fine with £637 in costs.

After the hearing, the HSE Inspector on the case, Paul Newton, highlighted that asbestos exposure is the UK’s biggest work related killer, saying:

“[...] the exposure of these two workers to this dangerous substance was entirely preventable.”

Going on to say that the nature of the work made it clear that the building’s structure would be fundamentally disturbed, he explained that in an ideal situation, a survey would have been scheduled. Newton continued:

“Geoff Thomas and Son then compounded the problem by failing to decontaminate the workers, their clothes and equipment once the asbestos had been identified.”

Newton also highlighted the fact that the workers returned to their homes without decontaminating their protective clothing, as well as attending other jobs.

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