A building contractor has been sentenced after its workers were exposed to potentially deadly asbestos fibres during refurbishment work at premises in Wales.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted J C Irvine Limited following an investigation which revealed that work on the refurbishment was being carried out without an asbestos survey.
Swansea Magistrates heard that asbestos containing materials were disturbed by construction workers employed by the defendant, releasing asbestos fibres into the air.
The HSE was informed that employees were carrying out work in a contaminated building, and inspectors visiting the site served an immediate Prohibition Notice.
The subsequent investigation found that J C Irvine Limited failed to ensure that the refurbishment work was planned in such a way as to reduce the risk to health and safety. It also failed to ensure that its employees were not exposed to asbestos fibres.
The company was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £2,148.50.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector, Hayley Healey said:
"This prosecution should act as a reminder to those in the construction industry of the importance of ensuring that an asbestos survey, and its findings, are available prior to work being carried out and that the correct control measures are in place to ensure that exposure to asbestos is prevented, so far as is reasonably practicable."
There are four main diseases caused by asbestos, all of which can develop much later after exposure - they are mesothelioma (always fatal); lung cancer (almost always fatal); asbestosis (not always fatal, but can be very debilitating) and diffuse pleural thickening.
Find out more about compensation for asbestos exposure here.