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.
Three companies have been fined a total of £2 million after a worker’s leg was broken in six places when a trench which he was working in collapsed on him. The firm contracted to carry out the excavation works were not approved for this type of specialist excavation work. They appointed a supervisor who had never supervised work, nor did he have the relevant training and qualifications to do so. After the accident the method statement was backdated to give the impression that it was signed by the workers prior to the trench collapsing.
The HSE inspector said: “This incident was foreseeable and avoidable and the injuries were the result of multiple failings by the duty holders, from the planning stage through to the execution of the project, resulting in the inevitable collapse of an unsupported trench.
A South Yorkshire crushing plant operator has been fined£240,000 and ordered to pay £22,7941 costs after worker lost his left arm when it was dragged into exposed machinery. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that workers on the crushing plant were required to clean down the machinery after each batch to ensure the titanium product was not contaminated; this placed them immediately next to unguarded belt and flywheels. Although the company had enclosed all the machinery with a fence including an interlocked gate, which ensured that the machinery was not powered when the gate was open, the belt and the flywheel could still move with considerable power if it was caught or nudged.