Client and contractor share blame for asbestos failings

A construction company and its customer have both been fined after failing to manage asbestos safely during a refurbishment of a former office block in Stockport.

A construction company and its customer have both been fined after failing to manage asbestos safely during a refurbishment of a former office block in Stockport.

The client knew there was an issue with asbestos but did no tell the contractor. But magistrates decided that the contractor should have anticipated it anyway.

Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how Samer Constructions Limited had been contracted by Swift Property Management MCR Ltd to refurbish the property in Hazel Grove, Stockport.

Materials containing asbestos along with general waste had been discarded from the property on and before 2nd August 2018 and were spread across the roof of a one storey part of the block. Some of the materials had also fallen onto a car park area below that was not segregated from passing members of the public.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that an asbestos survey on 31st May 2018 had identified the presence of asbestos containing materials (ACMs) including licensed ACMs, but this had not been passed to Samer Constructions Ltd prior to work being carried out.

Swift Property Management failed in its duty to pass the survey onto the contractor before to work commencing.

However, Samer Constructions failed in its duty to identify whether a survey had been undertaken and went ahead with the work “in a reckless manner” resulting in two employees being exposed to asbestos fibres.

Swift Property Management Limited of Denison Road, Manchester pleaded guilty to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. It was fined £25,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,428.

Samer Constructions Limited of Platt Lane, Manchester pleaded guilty to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. It was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,428.

HSE Inspector Phil Redman said after the hearing: “These risks could so easily have been avoided by acting on the findings of the asbestos survey and carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices. Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

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