Workers were potentially exposed to dangerous asbestos fibres and given only baby wipes and a cold water hose for decontamination.
Chelmsford magistrates heard the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) was alerted by a member of the public concerned that unsafe work was being undertaken at the farm building (pictured below).
HSE’s investigation found that LJW Cladding Ltd had no licence to remove asbestos, despite telling the farm owner it did. None of the workers were trained to work with licensed asbestos and were also placed in danger of falling from height while removing the fragile asbestos boards.
HSE found that the work, carried out between 26th and 28th February 2014, was totally lacking in safety measures. Asbestos insulating boards were broken from their fixings with inadequate attempts to prevent the uncontrolled release of fibres. There was no use of an enclosure and the respiratory protective equipment provided to workers offered insufficient protection.
Instead of a full three-stage decontamination unit required for such work, all the workers had were baby wipes and the farm’s cold water hose. Contaminated overalls over normal clothing continued to be worn while the workers ate their lunch on site.
The investigation also identified a lack of fall prevention or protection measures.
LJW Cladding Ltd of Evesham Close, Ipswich, Suffolk, was fined a total of £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3365.50 plus a £120 victim surcharge after pleading guilty to separate breaches of the Work at Height Regulations and the Control of Asbestos Regulations.
After the hearing, HSE principal inspector Dominic Elliss said: “LJW Cladding’s incompetent actions led to its employees being potentially exposed to asbestos fibres at a much higher level than would have been possible had a competent licensed contractor been used.
“In addition there was a serious risk one of them could fall from or through the fragile roof because of the firm failed to provide effective safeguards. Too many workers continue to be seriously injured from falls in exactly this type of refurbishment project.”