Change of plan on refurbishment project did not trigger checks

A major UK car maker has been fined £120,000 after work being undertaken at the company factory in 2014 exposed contractors to risks associated with asbestos.

HSE investigators found that during refurbishment work in the paint unit suspected asbestos insulating boards (AIB) were discovered beneath external cladding. The company asbestos register was not fully available to the contractor to allow a check on whether the boards contained asbestos.

No direct instruction was given to the contractor to stop the work to prevent any AIB being disturbed. The work, including the removal and cutting of holes in AIB board therefore continued without suitable precautions.

Asbestos claims 5,000 workers each year

Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard that no assessment of the risk was undertaken to determine if the work was notifiable or licensed asbestos work. Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Jane Carroll said:

“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.”