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  3. Council and company fined over mishandling asbestos

The local authority for North Warwickshire and Intal Decorators have both received fines in relation to inadequate health and safety measures. The two organisations failed to protect workers from exposure to asbestos fibres.

Asbestos must always be dealt with properly. The process should include the use of PPE (person protective equipment) and appropriate risk assessments. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered that the firm and the council in this case did not do enough in the latter area. In the event, asbestos insulation material was dispersed across the site instead of being removed with care. Other tradesmen involved in the work spotted the danger in time.

As a result, the HSE visited the site and conducted an investigation into the work done during March 2012. Just over a year and a half later, the Magistrates’ Court at Leamington Spa heard the local authority and the enterprise responsible for breaching health and safety legislation both plead guilty. The council was obliged to pay £10,000 as a fine and £1,200 in costs. The business was made to pay £5,000 as a fine and additional costs of £500.

Paul Cooper, an inspector at the HSE, explained:

“Refurbishment and demolition work must be planned and carefully thought through, especially where asbestos may be present. It is reasonable to expect North Warwickshire Borough Council to have planned its work in such a way that workers were not put at risk."

Cooper added that appropriate risk assessments should have been taken by Intal Decorators Limited.

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