Cheltenham contractor, Simon Cooper, and retailer, Hutchinson HiFi and Vision Ltd, have been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following an incident where a construction worker was exposed to asbestos while working on a refurbishment project. Simon Cooper was employed by Hutchinson HiFi and Vision Ltd in February 2010 to refurbish an empty shop unit in Cheltenham High Street, which involved replacing a suspended ceiling.
Simon Cooper did not make sure that an asbestos survey was carried out before refurbishments began. Resultantly, the construction site workers, including Matthew Thompson 28, from Cheltenham, were forced to remove 85m of asbestos insulating board over two days without the required controls or any sufficient protection.
It was also found that Hutchinson HiFi and Vision Ltd did not inform Mr Cooper about the asbestos in the building. A demolition and refurbishment survey should have been carried piror out and the results made provided to Mr Cooper.
In Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court, Hutchinson HiFi & Vision Ltd was fined £3,500 and ordered to pay £1,836 in costs after they pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 10 (1) (b) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007. Simon Cooper admitted guilt to violating Regulation 5 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and was ordered to pay fines of £600 in addition to £800 in costs.
Following the hearing, Simon Chilcott, a HSE inspector, said:
“As a result of the failings of Simon Cooper and Hutchinson HiFi and Vision, people were unnecessarily exposed to asbestos. This incident could have been avoided if the retailer had provided information on the presence of asbestos in the building and Mr Cooper had ensured he had seen a demolition and refurbishment survey before commencing the renovation work.
“The risks of asbestos are well known in the construction industry as are the controls required in dealing with it. Exposure to asbestos can have fatal or serious long term health consequences and, as such, every precaution must be taken to minimise any risks when working on buildings.”