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Construction Contractor Fined $972,000 for Asbestos Violations

A Barnet construction company has been issued a fine of $972,000 for alleged asbestos violations, according to a Health & Safety Executive (HSE) report. The company (Barroerock Construction Ltd.) was also asked to pay nearly $19200 for repeatedly violating asbestos regulations.

The construction contractor was charged following two investigations by the HSE in 2013 and 2014 at a Kent work site where workers were converting a building into apartments. The 9-story office building was old and known to contain hazardous asbestos, according to the HSE.

The first HSE investigation was a routine one during one of the refurbishment campaigns of the agency. The agency says at least 40 workers at the site were exposed to toxic asbestos fibers during the primary demolition phase of that project. HSE’s second investigation was in 2014 June after receiving complaints regarding the safety practices at the job site.

According to the HSE inspectors, the construction contractor was continuing dangerous practices in spite of engaging an authorized asbestos abatement contractor for removing the remaining asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). Additionally, the company wasn’t able to provide proper documentation to demonstrate that ACMs detected in the survey had been removed correctly. The HSE said nearly 160 workers were there inside the building when the project was halted for the second time.

In both the inspections, it was found that the incidents could’ve been prevented had Barroerock Construction Limited ensured they had adequate management controls in place in order to avoid the risks such as asbestos exposure, the HSE said.

Barroerock Construction admitted guilty to 2 offenses of violating the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM) at a hearing in the past.

The contractor’s failings have put numerous workers at the risk of developing asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma cancer, said Melvyn Stancliffe, an HSE inspector. It was very clear that there was a failure to manage the work effectively to ensure that ACMs weren’t disturbed until properly removed under suitable conditions, he said. Melvyn said failure to prevent inhalation of toxic asbestos fibers on the job site is reckless.

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