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The latest asbestos news and industry developments.

Company Director Jailed

27 March 2024

Stephen Davies, a 59-year-old company director, was sentenced to eight months in jail for not protecting workers from asbestos during a refurbishment project in Winchester. His co-director, Neil Bolton, 56, received a suspended sentence. Their company, Cavendish Winchester Ltd, was fined £30,000. All three pleaded guilty to charges related to inadequate management of asbestos removal. An HSE investigation found that about ten tonnes of asbestos insulating board were improperly removed by unqualified workers, under Davies's direction. Despite knowing the risks and having sought legitimate removal quotes, the directors chose a cheaper, unsafe method, exposing workers and potentially others to health risks. More here.


USA Finally Bans Asbestos

19 March 2024

The US has announced a ban on chrysotile asbestos, the only type of asbestos currently imported or used in the country, marking a significant step after decades of inaction compared to other developed nations that have already banned the carcinogenic material. This decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) follows a long history of attempts to ban asbestos, which is linked to 40,000 US deaths annually due to lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other cancers. Despite the decline in its use, asbestos remains in millions of US homes and buildings. The ban is considered limited by some advocates, as it only applies to chrysotile asbestos and gives industries up to 12 years to phase it out. Other types of asbestos are not covered by this ban, raising concerns that industries might switch to these still-legal alternatives. The effort to ban asbestos faced obstacles over the years, including a significant setback in 1989 when a court struck down an EPA attempt to ban it. Legislative changes in 2016 and renewed efforts under the current administration have finally led to this partial ban. More here.


Company Director Falsified Documents

18 January 2024

James Pett, a company director, was fined £5,000 for creating fake asbestos removal documents during a project at Abbotts Apartments in Brighton. Pett's company, Reliable Insulations and Fibre Control Ltd, was tasked with asbestos removal but fell behind schedule. To circumvent delays, Pett fabricated a 4-Stage Clearance certificate, a legal requirement ensuring safe asbestos removal, using a previous authentic certificate. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered the fraud, highlighting the significant risks of asbestos exposure. Pett pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety laws and was fined by Bromley Magistrates' Court. More here.


EU Leads with Stringent Exposure Measures as UK Lags Behind

3 October 2023

The EU has significantly tightened its asbestos exposure regulations, reducing the effective control limit to 0.01 fibres per cubic centimetre and planning to lower this further to 0.002 in 2029 if only phase-contrast microscopy (PCM) is used. This contrasts sharply with the UK, where the limit remains at a much higher 0.1 fibres per cubic centimetre, with no plans to update this despite evidence suggesting the need for much lower levels to reduce health risks effectively. The EU also mandates the adoption of more sensitive Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) for measuring thinner asbestos fibres, a technology not widely used in the UK. This disparity highlights the UK's lag in adopting newer, stricter safety measures that align with current scientific understanding and EU standards.

Construction firm fined £90,000 after exposing public to asbestos during renovation work

24 August 2023

Esskay Construction Ltd, based in Warrington, was fined £90,000 for exposing individuals to asbestos during a renovation in Stoke-on-Trent's Hanley area. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) acted on a concern raised about asbestos disturbance at a project on Brunswick Street. Local authority representatives found asbestos debris on-site and nearby. Esskay Construction failed to conduct necessary asbestos surveys before work began, risking exposure to workers and the public. Besides the £90,000 fine, the company must pay £6,009 in costs and a £190 victim surcharge. HSE highlighted the grave risks of asbestos exposure and emphasized the importance of proper assessment and removal procedures to prevent such hazards. More here.


Company fined for unlicensed asbestos removal

13 April 2023

Asbestos Boss Limited, an unlicensed asbestos removal company, was fined £80,000 after its director, Daniel Luke Cockcroft, was jailed for unsafe asbestos removal practices. In September 2021, the company improperly removed asbestos from a domestic garage in Stockport, leading to environmental contamination and exposing residents and workers to asbestos. Investigations by the HSE and Stockport Trading Standards found multiple instances of illegal work across the country, along with the provision of fake air test certificates, waste transfer notes, training certificates, and insurance documents. Cockcroft pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to 10 months in prison and ordered to pay victim compensation. The company, found guilty of breaching asbestos handling regulations and fraud, failed to attend the sentencing and was ordered to pay a fine and compensation totaling around £90,000. This case highlights the critical importance of proper asbestos removal and the severe consequences of negligence. More here.


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