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Firms Prosecuted For Asbestos Exposure

Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court has heard how a number of workers and Royal Navy personnel were exposed to asbestos after pipes lined with the material were left on a roadside before being put in an open skip and transferred to a salvage yard.

The pipes that were lined with asbestos insulation were removed from HMS Sultan naval training base in Gosport in September 2009.

The court was told how VT Flagship Ltd, based in Southampton, was responsible for the works as the main contractor for the HMS Sultan site.

The firm contracted Hertfordshire-based PPSL District Energy Limited to remove the pipes before PPSL employed a local welding firm and pipe fitter to undertake the work.

Numerous pipes were stacked by the roadside at the base before they were placed in an open-top skip and transferred to Demolition and Salvage Ltd in Hilsea.

Demolition and Salvage Ltd contacted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on 20 October 2009 after discovering their premises was contaminated with asbestos which had originated from the pipes.

A subsequent HSE investigation found that both VT Flagship and PPSL had failed to identify the presence of asbestos in the pipes as a result of inaccurate checks and surveys.

PPSL District Energy Limited was fined a total of £18,000 and ordered to pay £4,291 in costs after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.

VT Flagship Ltd was fined £12,000 with costs of £5,196 after also pleading guilty to a single breach of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.

HSE Inspector Adam Wycherley said: “Before anyone undertakes any demolition or refurbishment works they must take appropriate steps to ensure they have reliable information regarding the materials they are dealing with, an essential requirement that is specifically in place to identify the presence of asbestos.

“VT Flagship and PPSL District Energy both failed in this regard. They wrongly assumed there was no asbestos without carrying out proper checks to back that up with hard evidence.

“As a result a number of workers for several different companies, as well as passing Navy personnel, were put at unnecessary risk. Anyone walking past the pipes could have inhaled fibres as they became airborne, and they posed a major contamination hazard.

“Thousands of people die every year as a result of asbestos-related disease, and duty holders cannot afford to take any chances or make assumptions.”

Asbestos Insurance 2013

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