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Homeowner forced to move to a hotel for almost a year because of asbestos

A couple of weeks ago we heard about an interesting case which clearly illustrates why we should all be on the look out for asbestos in our everyday lives.

The case involved a garage door installation company Garage Doors (Northern) Ltd which was fined after it failed to manage asbestos safely during work on a residential property.

Preston Magistrates’ Court heard on 9 October 2019, two employees of Garage Doors (Northern) Ltd, were removing an existing integrated garage door and fitting a new door at a property in Brownedge Lane, Bamber Bridge.

The workers removed old fittings from the side of the garage door with an angle grinder and some of the ceiling fittings with a crowbar. Holes were drilled into the ceiling to fit new roof bars and in doing so they caused damage to the ceiling, which was made of Asbestos Insulating Board (AIB).

The resulting dust containing asbestos fibres was spread through the house via the central heating system, resulting in the homeowner having to leave his home, and live in an hotel for 11 months, whilst the house was deep cleaned to remove all traces of asbestos fibres.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that despite undertaking work on a building built before 2000, a suitable and sufficient assessment to establish whether asbestos was liable to be present in the premises, and what type of asbestos containing material may have been present, was not carried out prior to the start of the job. Subsequent testing of the material came back positive for Chrysotile and Amosite.

Garage Doors (Northern) Limited of Aspden Street, Bamber Bridge, Preston, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6 (1) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,589.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Stuart Hadfield said: “Exposure to asbestos is a serious health issue and without companies fully assessing the risk when carrying out intrusive work they are potentially putting their workers and members of the public at risk.

“This incident could so easily have been avoided by identifying the presence of asbestos and putting in place the correct control measures and safe working practices to prevent the release of, and exposure to, asbestos.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

This case gives you an idea of the kind of asbestos legacy we have in this country. The use of asbestos was widespread in the construction industry during the 20th century and it can be found in a wide range of public buildings, including schools and hospitals, commercial buildings and private homes and garages.

Can you imagine, as a result of asking for a garage door to be removed and a new door to be fitted, you end up having to leave your home and move into a hotel for almost a year? This should give you some idea of how thorough a deep-clean needs to be when you are trying to remove all traces of asbestos fibres from a property. Exposure to asbestos is a serious health risk and any issues must be dealt with properly.

Before carrying out work on any property built before 2000 you should have either an Asbestos Refurbishment Survey or an Asbestos Demolition Survey.

These surveys will locate and describe all asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) within a property and help to ensure that those carrying out the work and manyone using the buildings are protected from the potentially fatal consequences of disturbing asbestos.

If you’re not sure where to go for help contact our expert team today and we will send you a free, no-fuss quote which is tailored to your requirements.

Acorn is a professional asbestos consultancy helping organisations deal with asbestos compliance using asbestos surveys, asbestos air testing, and asbestos removal management. Please call one of the team, or use the online form to obtain your free quotation. If you would like further information or advice on asbestos and asbestos training, contact the team on 0844 818 0895 or Contact Us

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