Firm hit for £50k after Newbury men exposed to asbestos
Gardner Mechanical Services Ltd was fined a total of £28,000 and ordered to pay £22,631 in costs at Reading Magistrates Court on Monday, October 8, following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive.
The firm had been contracted to undertake a mechanical services upgrade in a room at the university, and subcontracted the project to a Newbury-based company, who in turn subcontracted the work to two local men, Andrew Lloyd and Steve Taylor.
The court heard that on September 2, 2009, the two men drilled through a sprayed asbestos ceiling coating having not been made aware that asbestos was in the room.
They thought all asbestos material had been removed by specialist contractors prior to their work starting.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that as the principal contractor Gardner Mechanical Services was aware that some asbestos-containing materials were to be left on the site but had failed to relay this information to the subcontractors in a reliable way.
Gardner Mechanical Services Ltd, of Grovelands Avenue Workshops, Winnersh, Wokingham, pleaded guilty to breaching asbestos control regulations and construction regulations.
After the hearing HSE inspector Adam Wycherley said: "Gardner Mechanical Services had a clear duty of care to relay important information to its subcontractors in a reliable manner in order to prevent their exposure to asbestos, but this simply did not happen.
"As a result of poor planning on the part of GMS, two men were exposed to high levels of asbestos fibres, leaving them at risk of contracting serious diseases such as lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis of the lungs.
"This case highlights the importance of effective planning when addressing risks in construction, particularly in refurbishment, where there is a higher risk of coming into contact with asbestos.”
Information on working safely with asbestos can be found on the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos.