Two companies fined for the disturbance of asbestos

Westminster Magistrates’ Court have fined two companies after hearing how two employees of 24-Hour Maintenance Services Limited disturbed asbestos insulating board (AIB) whilst they carried out refurbishment work at a former commercial premises, undergoing conversion into flats, in Romford, London.

The incident occurred July and August 2014 and an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the client had not passed on the details of the presence of asbestos to the contractor, despite prior knowledge.

No refurbishment and demolition survey was conducted to determine the presence of asbestos on the site. The two workers stripped out the AIB without any effective precautions and therefore received significant exposure to asbestos fibres.

Asbestos can be found in any building built before the year 2000. A refurbishment / demolition asbestos survey is required where the premises, or part of it, need upgrading, refurbishment or demolition.

Firestone Estates Limited, of Tolpits Lane, Watford, Hertfordshire pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 10(1)(b) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and were fined £10,000 and were ordered to pay £1020.64 in costs with a £1,000 victim surcharge.

24-Hour Maintenance Services Limited, of Linton Avenue, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and were fined £5,000 with £974.44 in costs and a victim surcharge of £500.

See Asbestos Management for more details on the management of Asbestos.

Development

As many of you will know, here at Quantum we are proud of our continued progression, bringing you only the best in service and performance.

We have just completed our Alpha Tracker systems training in readiness for our switch over to this new platform in the coming weeks.

This system will enable us with new technologies to continue our work with commercial property managers, property surveyors, retailers, and service organisations.

We have worked with Start Software’s Tracker business management software system for a number of years and are eagerly anticipating the use of new technology available within the asbestos software Alpha Tracker.

Asbestos exposure – Man fined

Peter Wade from County Durham has been fined for potentially exposing members of the public to asbestos fibres during the refurbishment of a residential property on South Parade, Croft on Tees, County Durham.

Darlington Magistrates’ Court heard how Peter Wade of Staindrop, was converting an integrated garage into a bedroom at the property. While he was visiting the property for a quote, the home owners mentioned the possibility of asbestos in the garage.

While working in the loft space of the garage, the garage ceiling collapsed and Peter Wade proceeded to pull the remainder of the ceiling down, break it up and place in waste bags. It was not until he removed the material that he discovered it contained asbestos.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the incident, which occurred on 14 March 2015, found that Peter Wade failed to ensure an asbestos survey was carried out prior to any work taking place.

Peter Nigel Wade (trading as P.N. Wade Building and Civil Engineering contractor), of Winston Road, Staindrop, County Durham, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5(1) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, and was fined £267 and ordered to pay costs of £1,765.

Two deaths after crane collapse

A national crane hire company has been sentenced and fines of £850,000 for failings that led to the death of two men as a crane collapsed in London.

Southwark Crown Court heard crane operator Jonathan Cloke, 37, died after falling from the crane as it collapsed. It fell onto Michael Alexa, 23, a member of the public, and also killed him.

The court heard how sections of the tower crane, which was on a housing development in Thessaly Road, Battersea, separated when 24 bolts failed due to metal fatigue.  The 24 bolts were a significant safety feature on the crane’s slew ring, which connected the mast (tower) to the slew turret. This allows the arms of the crane (jib) to rotate through 360 degrees. When the bolts failed the slew turret and jib separated from the mast and fell to the ground.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the incident, in September 2006, found Falcon Crane Hire Ltd did not investigate a similar incident which happened nine weeks before, when the bolts failed on the same crane and had to be replaced.

HSE found the company had an inadequate system to manage the inspection and maintenance of their fleet of cranes. Their process to investigate the underlying cause of components’ failings was also inadequate. It told the court the particular bolts were a safety critical part of the crane. The court also heard the bolts failing previously was an exceptional and significant occurrence, which should have been recognised by Falcon Crane Hire.

Lilliana Alexa, Michael’s mother, said on behalf of her family:

“Michael was a lovely son, a wonderful big brother and a devoted father. His son has had to grow up without the love and support of Michael, who adored him. He was denied that opportunity because his life was taken away and with his, ours too.

The memories of that day will never leave our family. We heard the crash and felt the ground shake. I found Michael and it’s an image that haunts my nightmares. If only we had stopped to chat or parked the car somewhere else he would still be alive. We know we are not to blame but it does not stop us all feeling guilt.

We cannot comprehend how our beloved son, brother, father and friend who was so full of live has gone. The whole crane industry must learn from our tragedy and the devastation it has caused. We do not want another family to endure the same pain of losing their child.”

 

Mike Wilcock, HSE Head of Operations, said:

“Jonathan and Michael’s deaths were tragic, needless and entirely avoidable. These two men need not have died had Falcon Crane Hire taken the right, decisive action when the bolts failed the first time. The company fell far short of its health and safety obligation.”

Falcon Crane Hire Ltd were fined £750,000 and ordered to pay costs of £100,000 for breaching Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act.