Decorator fined after asbestos exposure

A decorating contractor has been fined nearly £82,000 after it exposed employees, agency staff and the public to asbestos material.

The incident happened during refurbishment works at offices in Sentinel House, Nuffield Industrial Estate, Poole in 2009.

Bournemouth Crown Court heard how MJC Decorating & Refurbishing Ltd began removing ceilings without carrying out an appropriate survey in advance to determine whether asbestos was present.

A HSE inspector visited the site and found widespread contamination and spread of asbestos both inside and outside the building. Further investigations also revealed that some material removed from the site as non-hazardous may have included asbestos-containing material.

Four employees and 14 agency staff employed by MJC Decorating & Refurbishing Ltd, were exposed to asbestos dust and fibres as a result.

Workers removed asbestos insulation boards over a two week period while wearing normal work clothes that became contaminated with asbestos fibres. It is feared that this may have led to the exposure of many more members of the public during their journey to and from the site over this period.

MJC Decorating & Refurbishing Ltd, of London Road, North Cheam, Sutton, Surrey, pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. It was fined a total of £45,000 and ordered to pay £36,943 in costs.

HSE inspector Helena Tinton said: “This was a very serious incident which carries severe risks for people’s health.

“MJC’s safety failings led to the needless exposure to dangerous asbestos fibres of its employees, agency staff and the wider public. The firm didn’t carry out a suitable survey for asbestos material before the work started and failed to provide protection for workers on site.

“Regulations on dealing safely with asbestos have been in place for many years and are widely known in the industry.

“This totally needless incident would not have happened if MJC had carried out proper assessments and had trained staff on site.”

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