General Motors UK have been fined a whopping £120,000 over the discovery of asbestos contamination at their Vauxhall branch in Ellesmere Port.
The car manufacturer was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after work being undertaken at the Ellesmere Port site back in 2014 was found to have exposed building contractors to asbestos. thus posing a significant risk to their health.
The HSE carried out an investigation and found that during building works to replace the existing high pressure hot water boilers with new gas burners in the company’s paint unit, insulating boards suspected to contain asbestos were discovered underneath the external cladding on the stores building.
The contractors that were carrying out the refurbishment had previously submitted both a risk assessment and method statement for the works, which was originally due to traverse a roof.
It was learned that when the location of the new pipework was changed to the side of the building that there was no review of the risk assessment for the job undertaken at the time, particularly in relation to asbestos.
Sampling conducted afterwards confirmed that asbestos was present.
The asbestos register was not fully available for the contractor to see on the day the suspected boards were discovered, so this meant that the contractor was unable to check whether the boards contained asbestos or not.
There was no direct instruction given to the contractor by General Motors to stop the work in order to prevent any asbestos insulating boards being disturbed.
Therefore, the works which included removal and cutting of holes in the boards, continued ahead without any suitable precautions.
No risk assessment was undertaken by General Motors in order to determine if the work was notifiable or indeed actually licensed asbestos work.
Licensed contractors were employed to conduct a clean-up of the site and to carry out a decontamination programme of the roof and in the stores upon completion of the work.
General Motors UK Ltd, based in Bedfordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. They were fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £11,779 in prosecution costs.
HSE inspector Jane Carroll said after the hearing, “Asbestos kills around 5,000 workers each year, this is more than the number killed on UK roads. Asbestos can be present within any premises built or refurbished before the year 2000.”
“Whenever asbestos containing materials are found to be present, companies have a legal duty to document and implement an asbestos management plan which includes measures to adequately control the risk of exposure to asbestos fibres.”
Duty holders and employers have a legal responsibility to manage asbestos in their building so as not to put employees at risk. Contact our Armco office for asbestos management and refurbishment/ demolition surveys on 0161 763 3727 or by visiting https://www.armco.org.uk/. Alternatively call 0161 761 4424 or visit https://www.armcoasbestostraining.co.uk/ for enquiries or to book a training course.
Published Jul 25, 2016