A fully-trained and qualified supervisor in licensed asbestos removal has been successfully prosecuted after workers under his supervision were exposed to potentially-deadly fibres at a Greater Manchester college.
Steven Kelly, 41, from Kirkby on Merseyside, pleaded guilty to breaching section 7(a) of the HSWA 1974 at Trafford Magistrates’ Court in Sale on 11 October following an HSE prosecution. He was fined £790 and ordered to pay costs of £250 for failing to take reasonable care of workers under his supervision.
The prosecution was brought after the HSE had carried out an unannounced visit at Trafford College in Stretford on 12 December 2012. While there, inspectors spotted three men without suitable clothing or masks in an area of the college where asbestos was being removed.
The investigation found that Manchester-based firm Winsulate had been hired to carry out asbestos removal work during a refurbishment project at the college.
Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard that Mr Kelly was the project’s supervisor but had ignored the company’s procedures on working with asbestos.
On further investigation, the HSE found that Mr Kelly had sent the men into the undercroft beneath the classrooms, which had been sealed off from the rest of the building, to fix the temporary lighting. The workers were wearing their own clothes instead of disposable clothing under their overalls, and half masks instead of full-face respiratory masks.
The court also heard that the men were wearing lace-ups instead of wellington boots, which meant that asbestos fibres could stick to their laces or get inside their boots.
This led to them being put at risk of breathing in asbestos fibres, and other fibres could stick to their laces or get inside their boots.
Despite being a fully-trained and qualified supervisor in licensed asbestos removal, inspectors found that Mr Kelly had failed to take reasonable care of the workers.
Several other issues were discovered on the site. This included insufficient water for the workers to properly sponge down boots and masks to stop fibres becoming airborne, used clothing discarded inside the enclosure, and a failure to carry out daily checks on masks.
HSE inspector Laura Moran, said: “Asbestos is responsible for thousands of deaths in the UK every year but it only becomes dangerous when it is broken up and fibres are released in to the air.”
The inspector added that Mr Kelly had put the workers at risk by not following the correct safety procedures.
“He simply should never have allowed three men to go into a contaminated area while wearing their own clothes, and without the correct protective clothing and respiratory masks.”
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