Roofing firm fined over unsafe asbestos removal

13th November 2014

Abbey Roofing Specialists Limited based in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, has been fined £9,000 for its unsafe asbestos removal practices.

The firm’s poor practices were brought to light when an employee fell through as asbestos roof in June 2013. The individual was left with multiple fractures after the incident, and reported a lack of training and assessment in regard to safe asbestos removal, reports newsletter.co.uk.

During this particular job, the firm was contracted to remove concrete slabs from inside a property containing asbestos. Originally, a mobile scaffolding unit was going to be used to remove the slabs, which were bolted in. However, when the firm discovered this wasn’t possible, it decided to send its employees up to the roof so they could use a grinder to cut away the nails securing the slabs. No risk assessment was carried out for this task, reports hseni.gov.uk, and the firm had failed to take into account the danger of the asbestos if it had become airborne.

Anne Cassidy, an inspector with the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI), said after the hearing that contractors should know they are legally required to ensure their employees are safe, especially when working at height.

“The dangers of asbestos are also well known,” she stated. “There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos and the correct procedures for working with it are long established. It is a legal requirement that contractors understand and follow procedures to prevent the spread of and exposure to asbestos.”