A care and home provider for the elderly and two contractors have been made to pay over £23,000 in total for putting staff and residents at risk of exposure to asbestos at a home in Alnwick, Northumberland.
West Yorkshire based Express Elevators was contracted by Anchor Trust to replace the lift at St Paul’s Court sheltered housing scheme in November 2012. PC Lifts, of London, was subcontracted to remove the existing lift ahead of the new one being installed.
The lift shaft contained asbestos boards, which PC Lifts removed without putting any measures in place to prevent the spread of asbestos fibres.
Bedlington Magistrates’ Court heard that Anchor Trust had a duty as the client to ensure that arrangements made for managing the lift replacement were suitable.
But the HSE said the company had failed in this duty as it provided Express Elevators with conflicting information and, although an asbestos survey was provided, it was not sufficiently accurate or detailed enough for the work being carried out.
The HSE also found that Express Elevators failed in its duty to plan and manage the work, as it did not make adequate inquiries about the presence of asbestos. The company relied on verbal information from Anchor and although it received the survey, no reference was made to it before work began.
PC Lifts was also found not to have made adequate inquiries, and to have worked in the lift shaft without adequate lighting. These factors may have contributed to the company’s failure to identify the asbestos.
The HSE said the combined failures of all three parties led to the unsafe removal of the asbestos and the potential spread of asbestos fibres.
Anchor Trust was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £346.40 in costs, while Shipley-based Express Elevators was fined £8,000 with £827.30 costs after both pleaded guilty to breaching the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.
London-based PC Lifts was fined £4,000 with £346.40 costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
HSE Inspector Natalie Wright said: “This incident occurred because not one of the defendants fulfilled their respective duties when carrying out the lift replacement at St Paul’s Court, leading to asbestos fibres being disturbed.”