Firm fined over asbestos breach

Deadly: Asbestos was found at the warehouses in Rotherham.
Deadly: Asbestos was found at the warehouses in Rotherham.
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A SOUTH Yorkshire firm continued exposing workers to dangerous asbestos-containing materials despite advice from the local council.

Only when the Health and Safety Executive issued a Prohibition Notice banning entry to two warehouses run by Rotherham Bonding Company Ltd were employees removed from danger.

Rotherham Magistrates’ Court heard the council bought the warehouses in Oldgate Lane, Rotherham, from Fosters of Thrybergh Ltd in July 2009 and arranged for a professional asbestos survey before demolishing them.

In the meantime Rotherham Bonding Company, which ran the warehouses, was using staff from its sister company, Fosters of Thrybergh, to empty them of their stock of wine and spirits.

The court heard Rotherham Council’s surveyor spotted large amounts of damaged asbestos-containing materials on the floors where forklift trucks were operating.

He advised employees and the council about his findings.

The council notified firms about the presence of asbestos but nothing was done and work continued.

The HSE was informed in September and inspectors visited the site. They immediately issued the Prohibition Notice preventing entry to the buildings and later took samples which showed white and brown asbestos were present.

A full survey was carried out and 18 of 20 samples were found to contain significant concentrations of asbestos.

Fosters of Thrybergh Ltd, of Doncaster Road, Thrybergh, pleaded guilty to two charges under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and was fined £5,500 with £6,250 towards costs.

After the hearing, Inspector Mark Welsh said: “Fosters was prosecuted because it was directly responsible for the exposure to asbestos of about six employees.

“This breach could and should have been avoided by straightforward safety precautions.

“This is a particularly shocking incident as not only did this firm not undertake an asbestos survey, they completely ignored the advice given by the council and a specialist surveyor.”