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Two firms have been prosecuted for exposing workers to asbestos dust and fibres in 2010. The fines were handed down at Plymouth Crown Court in mid-September 2013.

The prosecution followed an incident in May 2010, as a boiler house and its equipment were removed at a former Dairy Crest site. Compounding the issue, the site near the railway station in Totnes was not made safe until two days after the initial incident.

In prosecuting Dairy Crest Limited and Rochdale Electric Welding Company Limited (REWCO), the court had heard that there were key deficiencies from both firms in planning the job.

In an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), it was determined that REWCO had not completed sufficient checks into whether or not asbestos was present at the site. While sufficient diligence works had been carried out by the dairy company, this was completed some years earlier and the report not passed onto REWCO.

The court also heard how the HSE had identified issues with staff training.

Three employees of the welding company were exposed to the asbestos, and were inadequately equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE).

Reacting to the prosecution, Martin Lee, a HSE Inspector, said:

"There were clear failings by both companies to identify and properly manage and control the asbestos containing material before work started, and to provide appropriate protection for workers when it did.”

Dairy Crest was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay court costs amounting to over £22,000. REWCO received an £8,000 fine and was ordered to pay £13,786 in costs.

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