A North East glass firm has been fined after potentially exposing nearly 200 workers and visitors to dangerous asbestos fibres at its Consett premises.
The Health and Safety Executive investigated the incident, which was triggered by two fire alarm installers when they started some work at the firm’s Princess Building on Leadgate Industrial Estate on 12 July 2011. Consett Magistrates Court heard that the fire alarm sub-contractors were told that the building was asbestos free and unknowingly drilled into asbestos insulation board, releasing dangerous fibres.
It was reported that they then used a domestic vacuum cleaner to clean up the dust and debris and later used it in several parts of the building as they put up the sensors, spreading asbestos fibres around the premises. The disturbance was identified the next day and the HSE investigation found that Consett-based Romag Ltd then ignored recommendations from its own safety advisors to cordon off a contaminated area and arrange for an emergency clean-up by specialists.
The court ruled that the firm’s failure to inform required personnel of the presence of asbestos and a delay in taking action led to 180 workers and 16 visitors being put at risk of exposure to asbestos fibres. Romag Ltd, whose registered office is Emperor Way, Sunderland pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £12,638 in costs.
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Published Dec 19, 2013