Lawford Kidd's Blog

Lawford Kidd's injury solicitors' blog designed to cover all areas of the law relating to accident compensation claims, injury claims and no win no fee in Scotland.

Demolition firm sentenced over asbestos danger

A demolition firm has been sentenced after knocking down a building in the Lake District containing hundreds of asbestos ceiling tiles, putting the lives of workers and local residents at risk.

IBT Contracting Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after carrying out the work at a former photography factory, despite not having a licence to remove asbestos.

Kendal Magistrates' Court heard IBT had been given a survey by the owners of the site ahead of the work taking place, which stated that the building contained 166 square metres of asbestos ceiling tiles.

But the company failed to arrange for a licensed contractor to remove the tiles safely, and instead released deadly asbestos fibres into the air during the building's demolition.

IBT Contracting pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006, for removing asbestos without a licence, exposing workers to asbestos fibres, and allowing the fibres to spread to neighbouring areas.

The company was fined £10,800 and ordered to pay £3,638.95 in prosecution costs. 

Asbestos was used in ceiling tiles up until the 1980s to help insulate buildings. The tiles only become dangerous if they are broken up and asbestos fibres are released into the air.

Fibres that are breathed in can become lodged in the lungs or digestive tract, and may lead to lung cancer or other diseases if large numbers of fibres are inhaled. However, symptoms may not appear for several decades.

Around 4,000 people die every year as a result of breathing in asbestos fibres, making it the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK.

Find out more about claims for asbestos exposure here.


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Window and door manufacturer fined after worker killed

A firm specialising in the manufacture of wooden doors and windows has been fined for safety failings after a worker died at its Leyton premises.

Andrzej Rokita had been with M M Contracting Ltd for only ten days when he attempted to help his son, also an employee, to remove a large board from the middle of a pile stacked upright against a wall in the workshop.

The company's usual system for doing this was for one employee to stand in front of the stack, taking the weight of the unwanted boards on his hands, while a fellow worker pulled out the chosen one from the side. Unfortunately as Mr Rokita tried to support the weight of the leaning wooden panels they toppled over, crushing him and causing fatal head injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and found that the company did not have a safe system of work for the storage or retrieval of boards. Storing the boards flat on the floor or using a simple purpose-built racking system would have greatly reduced the risk of injury.

After today's sentencing hearing at Southwark Crown Court, HSE inspector Kevin Smith said:

"This was a death waiting to happen. Incidents such as this are still a common occurrence in the industry despite the existence of guidance from the HSE offering simple, inexpensive solutions for stacking wood safely.

"As a direct result of the company's failure to provide safe storage for their everyday materials, a father and husband has lost his life. There is no excuse for employers not ensuring that wood on their premises is properly stored, posing the most minimal risk to their staff."

The company pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £26,000 and ordered to pay £9,000 in costs.


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Company fined after fatal accident at work

Railcare Ltd has been fined £133,000 (reduced from £200,000 on account of their guilty plea) at Glasgow Sheriff Court for a breach of Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, following the death of one of their employees in December 2008. John Smith, a 53-year old employee of the company, died as a result of head injuries sustained whilst working at an axle lathe that had an unguarded chuck.

The company pled guilty to:

  • failing to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the risks to employees when cleaning axles on a lathe;
  • failing to implement a safe system of work in that the chuck of the lathe was unguarded when employees were working close to it; and
  • failing to provide adequate information, instruction, training and supervision on the use of the lathe.

Following the case, Elaine Taylor, Head of the COPFS Health and Safety Division, said:

“This case yet again demonstrates the crucial importance of employers carrying out suitable and sufficient assessment of risks to their employees in the course of their daily work, taking the steps necessary to identify such risks, and thereafter ensuring that safe systems of work are in place and dangerous machinery parts are properly guarded. Railcare failed in each of these respects in relation to the axle lathe.”

"As a result, Mr Smith lost his life in an entirely avoidable incident.”


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