South Yorkshire firm fined for exposing workers to asbestos
A Rotherham firm continued exposing workers to dangerous asbestos-containing materials despite advice from the local council.
Only when the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued a Prohibition Notice banning entry to two warehouses run by local storage firm, Rotherham Bonding Company Ltd, were employees removed from danger.
Rotherham Magistrates’ Court heard the Council bought the warehouses in Oldgate Lane from Fosters of Thrybergh Ltd in July 2009 and arranged for a professional asbestos survey before demolishing them. In the meantime Rotherham Bonding Company, which ran the warehouses, was using staff from its sister company, Fosters of Thrybergh, to empty them of their stock of wine and spirits.
The court heard Rotherham Council’s surveyor spotted large amounts of damaged asbestos-containing materials on the floors where forklift trucks were operating. He advised employees and the council about his findings. The council notified both Rotherham Bonding Company and Fosters of Thrybergh about the presence of asbestos but nothing was done and work was allowed to continue.
HSE was informed in September and visited the site. It immediately issued the Prohibition Notice preventing entry into the buildings and later took samples which showed white and brown asbestos were present. As a result a full survey was carried out and 18 of 20 samples were found to contain significant concentrations of asbestos.
Fosters of Thrybergh Ltd, Doncaster Road, Thrybergh, pleaded guilty to two charges under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and was fined £5,500 with £6,250 towards costs.
After the hearing, Inspector Mark Welsh said:
“Fosters of Thrybergh was prosecuted because it was directly responsible for the exposure to asbestos of about six of Fosters’ employees. This breach could and should have been avoided by straightforward safety precautions.
“This is a particularly shocking incident as not only did this firm not undertake an asbestos survey, they completely ignored the advice given by the council and a specialist surveyor.
“Asbestos-related diseases are responsible for around 4,000 deaths every year. Building managers have a duty to identify the presence and condition of asbestos and, where necessary, engage a suitably qualified company to remove it safely. The HSE will not hesitate to take action against those who fall short of the law.”
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