The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has handed down a £2,750 fine to a UK demolition and asbestos removal firm which sold a boiler found to contain traces of asbestos. Anglian Demolition & Asbestos Limited was hit with the financial penalty, plus £1,716 costs, after pleading guilty to an offence under Regulation 11(2) of the Restriction of Chemicals Enforcement Regulations 2008. In doing so, it became the latest UK company to admit contravening the law regarding asbestos.

Company pleads guilty in court

At a hearing at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, the company accepted that, in either May or June 2012, it carried out demolition and asbestos removal work at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Ely, Cambridgeshire. Contractors removed two boilers from the hospital site and then sold them on to a third-party company, Kings Boiler Hire Limited. Later it was discovered that one of the two boilers contained the harmful substance. This meant Anglian Demolition & Asbestos Limited had failed to comply with the regulations.

Edward Crick, an inspector at the HSE, said the dangers of asbestos fibres to people’s health are “well-known” and companies are aware of their legal responsibilities. He explained that asbestos fibres and items that have asbestos added to them intentionally cannot legally be placed on the market. “Placing on the market has a wide definition and includes supplying or making available, whether in return for payment or free of charge, to a third party and applies at every stage in the supply chain,” Mr Crick added.

The dangers of asbestos exposure

According to HSE, around 5,000 workers each year die as a result of asbestos-related diseases, with 20 tradesman each week losing their lives due to past exposure. The substance was commonly used in insulation in years gone by and is still often found in properties built or refurbished before the year 2000. This means that although asbestos will not be found in new buildings, it remains a potent threat.

Mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and pleural thickening are among the potentially fatal conditions which can be brought about by exposure to asbestos. These diseases typically develop over an extended period of time, meaning symptoms will not present themselves immediately after an individual comes into contact with asbestos.

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