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August 11, 2011

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Firms used cheap, unlicensed contractor to remove asbestos materials

Two companies and a contractor have been prosecuted for releasing asbestos fibres during an office refurbishment project in Birmingham city centre.

The building – at 114-116 Colmore Row – was owned by Evanacre Colmore Row Ltd, which, together with project managers Marchment Consulting, hired builder Roland Morewood to carry out work over the weekend of 29 January 2010.

The work involved upgrading a lift, which, an asbestos survey held by Evanacre showed, contained asbestos insulating board. Nevertheless, the firms hired unlicensed contractor Morewood to remove it, for which he charged a significantly lower fee than a licensed contractor.

When lift engineers (not linked to either company) arrived at the site, they found pieces of asbestos insulating board spread around the lift shaft area and refused to carry on working. The HSE was informed and its inspectors subsequently discovered that asbestos fibres had spread to several parts of the building.

Air tests taken on several floors of the premises – which was operational and occupied throughout the refurbishment (though not on the weekend of asbestos removal itself) – revealed significantly high levels of asbestos fibres, which were also found in several vacuum cleaners used around the building. The HSE stopped all workers from going into the building until it had been decontaminated. €

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David
David
11 years ago

£7000 fine plus £1500 costs? I assume that a zero is missing off those numbers, otherwise I’ll employ an unlicensed contractor every time – it would still be cheap at twice the fine!

Ray
Ray
11 years ago

So, having been caught red handed, Evanacre then had to pay £85,000 for the clean up operation and they were fined a paltry £7,000 plus £1,500 costs. Worse still, Roland Morewood was fined £1,000 plus £823 costs – tell me it’s a joke?!

Despite the deceit, lies and potentially contaminating others working in the building the companies are fined a fraction of what it cost to remove the asbestos by a licenced contractor. Little wonder these people are prepared to break the law to save money.

Sitesafetynet
Sitesafetynet
11 years ago

I have expereince as a CDM-C, of a licenced contractor, who as a member of ARCA, working for the P.C.as his Appointed Advisor, said that the most appropriate way to remove ACM roof sheets is to smack them off from below using a scaffold pole. So if the licenced boys are doing it that way why should unlicenced contractors be any different. It serves no useful purpose to prosecute after the event. We need an Enforcing Authority with teeth, and Judges that don’t pussy foot.

Steve
Steve
11 years ago

I have just left the HSE and I was involved in this case. When I arrived on site I wish I had informed the press – considering the risk to all of the workers on site and the Lloyds Bank workers and public.

Yes – the fines do not fit the crime – considering 4000 are dying a year from asbestosis.

Tony
Tony
11 years ago

Companies will not be put off from breaking the law if they know that they will be punished with paltry fines like these.
I wonder if the punishment would be the same if the company was one from the chemical industry?

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