Two Essex-based companies have been fined a total of £215,000 and ordered to pay £16,300 costs after exposing workers to asbestos over a period of years, despite knowing of its presence, in units that they occupied . Basildon Magistrates heard that asbestos had been found in poor condition when one of the companies moved into the Benfleet premises in 2007, but that it failed to take any actions over the succeeding years. As a result, its employees were exposed to asbestos fibres.
In 2014, following the appointment of a new health and safety officer, an asbestos survey was carried out. This confirmed the ongoing presence of asbestos. Despite this, workers remained exposed to risk while the two companies argued about who was responsible for its removal. The Health and Safety Executive launched an investigation, having been alerted by concerned employees. HSE’s scientists found asbestos fibres at the workers’ clocking-in point, in the stationary cupboard and on rafters above their heads.