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Co Armagh firm fined for unnecessary spread of asbestos material

The Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) has successfully led a prosecution against Portadown Recycling and Skip Hire Limited, resulting in fines totalling £10,500.

The Portadown based company pleaded guilty, at Craigavon Crown Court, to a total of six health and safety offences which related to the removal of asbestos containing materials at a former factory site at Shaerf Drive, Lurgan.

The prosecution arose as a result of an HSENI visit to the factory site where an Inspector observed workers throwing what was believed to be asbestos cement sheeting onto the ground through a window opening of the derelict factory building. Significant amounts of this material was also noted in the immediate area outside the building.

The material was later confirmed to contain asbestos fibres consistent with those found in asbestos cement sheeting.

During the inspection, the Inspector did not observe the use of any control measures that are required during the removal of asbestos containing materials.

In addition, employees of Portadown Recycling Skip and Hire Ltd were not wearing suitable respiratory protective equipment designed to further reduce the potential exposure of workers to asbestos fibres.

At the time of the visit, the Inspector served a prohibition notice preventing any further asbestos removal work from continuing.

HSENI Inspector Gavin Rowan said: “The failure of the company to clearly identify the presence and condition of asbestos before any removal work was a fundamental error. In this case, the absence of effective control measures placed workers at unnecessary risk from exposure to asbestos fibres.

“Preventing exposure to asbestos is a workplace health priority area for HSENI. Employers should be aware that HSENI will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

Further information on the legal requirements of working with asbestos containing materials can be found on HSENI’s website at www.hseni.gov.uk/topic/asbestos

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