The dangers of asbestos are now well-known and well-recognised, and regulations have been put into place in order to safeguard the safety of workers and the public. One knit-wear company failed to protect visitors and workers when it decided to have an asbestos cement sheet roof removed from one of its sites.
Although asbestos removal should be undertaken by asbestos-licensed contractors, the site foreman failed to adequately assess the task in hand. The roof sheet was removed, but so was a plaster-like material, found on the structural steelwork and on the underside of the roof sheets.
The foreman had instructed two workers to remove this material using hammer and chisel, and the waste was then put into domestic bin bags and left in an open skip. One worker was still working in the area during the works, and access to the building was in no way restricted.
When the HSE received a complaint they decided to investigate and found that the plaster-like material contained asbestos. The works were stopped and both the foreman and the knit-wear company were prosecuted.
Health and safety training on safely managing the risks of exposure to asbestos is essential for any workers who are likely to come into contact with it.