Several construction workers and a health trust employee were potentially exposed to asbestos during the replacement of switchboards and cabling in the basement area of a Belfast Hospital. The hospital trust was fined even though it had previously carried out asbestos surveys of the basement area which was known to contain asbestos in the form of thermal insulation debris on the floor and pipes.
Asbestos risk information was not passed on to those involved in the construction project.
The Health and Safety breaches were as follows:
– Article 4 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Order (NI) 1978, in particular 4 (2) (a) and 4 (2) (c)
– Article 5 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Order (NI) 1978.
Update: another asbestos case (23rd Oct) – in this incident, asbestos-containing materials were disturbed and spread during the demolition of outbuildings at a Downpatrick site.
In this case, investigation by the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) found the person carrying out demolition work at the site had not carried out a pre-demolition survey, even though an asbestos management survey had been carried out by the site owner which had identified asbestos cement to be present or presumed to be present on the roofs and other parts of the outbuildings. The owner’s survey also identified asbestos cement debris on the floors and in the areas outside the outbuildings.
In addition, the system of work used in the demolition of the outbuildings was not safe and fell short of acceptable work practices, and there was neither a risk assessment nor a written plan of work for the removal of asbestos on the site. The method used in the demolition of these outbuildings was such that dust containing asbestos fibres was released into the air. In addition, the rubble which was created by the demolition was found to be contaminated with asbestos.
HSENI’s Duty to Manage campaign outlines the legal duties required for those who are responsible for the repair and maintenance of non-domestic properties to manage the risks from asbestos: http://asbestos.hseni.gov.uk/