A Barnet building firm has been fined after it ‘turned a blind eye’ to potential asbestos hazards being faced by its workers, who were converting an old pub in Victoria Road into flats.
Westminster Magistrates were told (8 Oct) that concerns about health and safety on the site were raised by local people, who were also worried about the risks to passers-by.
An Inspector from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) visited on 4 March 2013 to check conditions, and enforcement action regarding unsafe work at height and inadequate fire precautions was taken against MP Builders Ltd that day. The firm was also asked to provide information about how they were managing the asbestos risks on site, but HSE heard nothing from them.
As a result, HSE visited again on 22 March and served an improvement notice on the company, giving them four weeks to provide the workers with the training they needed to enable them to identify materials that might contain asbestos if found during their refurbishment works, and to know how to deal with it correctly. The deadline was later extended by a week.
MP Builders failed to comply and, despite assurances to the contrary, its failure to comply persisted, remaining in breach of the notice right up to the date of the prosecution.
MP Builders Ltd of Games Road, Barnet, Herts, was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £4,500 in costs for breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Stephron Baker Holmes said:
“The improvement notice was straightforward. It was simple and inexpensive to comply with, by providing training to employees liable to be exposed to asbestos.
“If the company had any doubts or questions, it had ample opportunity to ask them and I would have done all I could to help. Instead it apparently buried its head in the sand.
“As well as not meeting the extended deadline, the company continued in its failure to provide any evidence of compliance at any time during more than a year. It seems MP Builders just turned a blind eye to its responsibilities.”