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Two firms have been fined for potentially exposing their workers to the cancer-causing material asbestos.

Hartlepool-based Baxketh Ltd and Doncaster firm UK Tankcleaning Services were taken to court by the Health and Safety Executive after an investigation found the failings. Two directors of Baxketh also received fines.

The incident occurred when metal recycling firm Baxketh was hired to remove a section of steel work from the premises of UK Tankcleaning Services. The contract stated the steel scrap would be used in payment for the work.

As it transpired however, the steel comprised pipework that was lagged in an asbestos-containing material. The structure was completely removed by the workers, possibly releasing harmful fibres into the air.

Those involved were not wearing any personal protective equipment, such as breathing masks, adequate gloves or full-body suits.

Following the issuance of prohibition notices, the result of the investigation saw HSE take both firms to Teesside Magistrates’ Court.

The court heard that UK Tankcleaning Services had failed in its duty to inform the workers of the presence of asbestos. It also heard that Baxketh failed in its duty to thoroughly assess the work before it commenced.

With the directors of Baxketh – son and father Michael Almond Senior and Michael Almond Junior – both on site with the contaminated pipework at their feet, they were also taken to court.

Baxketh Ltd received a fine totalling £12,000, with costs of £3,804.20, while UK Tankcleaning Services was hit with a fine amounting to £10,000 along with £2,243.40 in costs. Mr Almond Snr, 73, received a £1,000 fine and costs of £204.80, and Mr Almond Jnr, 47, received a £650 fine.

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