UK Firm Fined $972,000 in Asbestos Case

"It was clear there was an endemic failure to effectively manage the construction work on the site in a way which ensured that asbestos materials were not disturbed until removed under appropriate conditions," said HSE Inspector Melvyn Stancliffe. "Failing to prevent the breathing in of asbestos fibers on the site is reckless."

A judge in Britain has fined Barroerock Construction Limited £750,000 -- about $972,000 in U.S. dollars -- and ordered the construction contractor to pay costs of £14,874.68 for repeated asbestos violations, the Health and Safety Executive reported.

The court heard details of two HSE investigations at a single site in 2013 and 2014 where Barroerock workers were converting a nine-story office building into apartments in Kent. The building was known to contain asbestos, according to the agency.

The first investigation was a routine inspection during one of HSE's refurbishment campaigns; HSE says as many as 40 workers were exposed to asbestos during the early demolition phase of the project. The second investigation brought a visit to the site in June 2014 after complaints were made about health and safety practices at the site.

"It was found that despite engaging a licensed asbestos contractor to remove the remaining asbestos materials, dangerous practices were continuing. In addition the company was unable to provide documentation to show that asbestos materials identified in the survey had been correctly removed. When the work on site was halted for the second time about 160 people were working inside the building," according to HSE. "It was found in both HSE investigations that these incidents could have been prevented if Barroerock ensured they had effective management controls in place to avoid the risk of exposure to asbestos."

The company pleaded guilty to two offenses of breaching Regulation 22 (1) (a) of the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2007 at an earlier hearing. "The company's failings in this case have put many workers at risk to the exposure of asbestos. It was clear there was an endemic failure to effectively manage the construction work on the site in a way which ensured that asbestos materials were not disturbed until removed under appropriate conditions," said HSE Inspector Melvyn Stancliffe. "Failing to prevent the breathing in of asbestos fibers on the site is reckless."

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