Latest Asbestos Health & Safety Breach
Although asbestos is a highly dangerous material, many people are unaware of its prevalence in modern life.
Asbestos can be present in any modern building that was built or refurbished before the year 2000. As a result of this, it is very easy for companies to unknowingly utilise tools or materials that still contain the material. This can be incredibly dangerous if the workers are unaware of the dangers, or if they have not received adequate training regarding how to manage these dangers.
A recent example of negligence regarding the management of asbestos is a recent case by HSE against a company in North Yorkshire. The company was sentenced for safety breaches after the Health & Safety Executive was informed that the company was using gaskets within its generator sets that contained asbestos. A more in-depth analysis confirmed that the gaskets did in fact contain it.
The company was served a Prohibition Notice on the 26th of March 2018. This required them to stop using the gaskets and ensure that they did not import any more items containing the dangerous material.
Negligence or Ignorance?
In the first instance, it is possible that the company could have claimed a lack of knowledge of the problem. However, a second concern was raised on the 21st of September 2018. Employees were asked to work on a generator set which contained similar gaskets to those containing asbestos. A second investigation found that these gaskets did contain the material. Because the generator set was imported into the country, the company had breached the terms of their Prohibition Notice. They subsequently pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and breaching Regulation 9 (1) and Schedule 6, part 2, section 2 of the REACH enforcement regulations 2008.
The company was fined £22,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2062. Rachel Brittain, of HSE, commented that ‘had the company put robust checks in place to ensure that they were not importing asbestos containing materials, this incident would not have occurred.’
The Statistics Speak for Themselves
In many ways, HSE has made an example of this machinery company. When we look at the facts surrounding asbestos related illness and death, it is clear to see why. It is estimated that 12,000 lung disease related deaths per year are linked to past exposures in the workplace. As well as this, there were 2,446 mesothelioma deaths in 2018, with a similar number of lung cancer deaths, which are linked to past exposures to asbestos.
The Long Term Damages
Although it is easy to throw around numbers regarding illness and deaths relating to asbestos, it is important that workers are aware of why it is dangerous. When materials containing asbestos are disturbed or damaged, the fibres are released into the air. If these fibres are inhaled, they cause serious disease. These diseases will not affect victims immediately – they can take a long time to develop. Once diagnosed, it is often too late to do anything about it. Around 20 tradesmen per week die as a result of past exposure.
Asbestos Awareness Training
At AW Safety Management, we offer a comprehensive Asbestos Awareness course that is suitable for both managers and tradesmen. This safety training allows companies to mitigate against the risk associated with the hazardous material. Furthermore, it is a legal requirement for anyone who comes across asbestos in their day-to-day work to have relevant awareness training. Upon completion of our Awareness course, workers will be able to:
- Identify possible asbestos containing materials (ACMs)
- Explain the protocols concerning work with ACMs.
- Determine whether you are:
- Putting yourself or anyone else at risk
- Able to establish the correct course of action if you encounter ACMs
- Following internal procedures
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*£65 when you book 2 or more courses together. £75 for individual bookings.