16th May 2008


 Issue No.  2008/11




Earlier this year a High Street retailer was fined £150,000 and ordered to pay £15,000 costs after pleading guilty to breaching Health and Safety.
Asbestos fibres had been discovered in a basement stock room, in one of the Company’s shops.  The Company had commissioned an asbestos report, but failed to ensure that recommendations to reduce risk made in the report were implemented.
On inspection, Environmental Health Officers found that despite evidence that the stock room had previously been sealed to protect staff and customers, the stock room was open and being used resulting in  stock being moved throughout the shop that may have been contaminated with asbestos fibres – putting employees and customers at risk.
Breathing in asbestos fibres can cause serious or fatal illnesses.
The company pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and were fined £150,000 and £15,000 costs.
We take this opportunity of reminding you that The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 came into force on 13 November 2006 consolidating the three previous sets of Regulations covering the prohibition of asbestos, the control of asbestos at work and asbestos licensing.

A reminder of some key points

The Regulations:
  • prohibit the importation, supply and use of all forms of asbestos whether new or second hand,
  • require the duty holder to take reasonable steps (carry out a survey) to find out if there are materials containing asbestos in the premises, and record the findings,
  • include the ‘duty to manage asbestos’ in non-domestic premises,
  • require mandatory training for anyone liable to be exposed to asbestos fibres at work. For example, maintenance workers, cable installers, other contractors etc.
When working with or disturbing asbestos, you must prevent exposure to asbestos fibres. Where this is not reasonably practicable, you must take appropriate measures to ensure that you keep exposure as low as reasonably practicable. The spread of asbestos must be prevented.
If existing asbestos containing materials are in good condition, they may be left in place; their condition monitored and managed to ensure they are not disturbed.

Useful task sheets and safe working guidance is available on “Asbestos Essentials” on the HSE web site: www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/regulations.htm
The website also gives full up-to-date content and commentary on the new consolidated Asbestos Regulations.
For information on training or asbestos surveys, please contact Sentient on 08456 446 006.




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