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Dale Farm fined £30k after workers exposed to asbestos

By Linda Stewart

Published 13/01/2016

Dale Farm Ltd says it has reviewed its health and safety procedures after it was fined £30,000 plus costs for asbestos-related offences
Dale Farm Ltd says it has reviewed its health and safety procedures after it was fined £30,000 plus costs for asbestos-related offences

Dale Farm Ltd says it has reviewed its health and safety procedures after it was fined £30,000 plus costs for asbestos-related offences.

The dairy firm pleaded guilty to breaches of health and safety legislation at court in Dungannon yesterday, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSENI), which brought the case.

In a statement HSENI said the prosecution related to an incident on March 13, 2013, when two ventilation engineers were exposed to asbestos fibres during extension work at Dunmanbridge Creamery in Cookstown.

The engineers were not given information on the location of asbestos-containing materials at the site prior to work commencing.

An investigation by HSENI found that Dale Farm had an asbestos management survey carried out 10 years before the incident but an asbestos management plan had not been developed, nor had a refurbishment or demolition survey been undertaken before the work began.

Dale Farm Ltd had also failed to update its asbestos register to take account of asbestos insulation board that was discovered in 2007 in the area where the incident took place.

Jonathan Knox, an inspector with HSENI's major investigation team, said: "Asbestos exposure is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in Northern Ireland.

"Although the supply of asbestos-containing materials was prohibited in 1999, many buildings in Northern Ireland still contain such products.

"Those in charge of non-domestic premises have a duty to manage the risks presented by asbestos-containing materials.

"A suitable assessment of the presence and condition of asbestos-containing materials must be carried out and relevant information passed to anyone liable to work on or disturb them."

Dale Farm said it acknowledged there was a breach of health and safety at its Dunmanbridge site in March 2013, and accepted the two charges brought by the HSENI. 

"Dale Farm has reviewed its health and safety systems to ensure that it complies with the highest standards and to mitigate the risk of this happening in future," it added.

Factfile

The health risks associated with asbestos relate to four serious diseases: mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, asbestosis and pleural thickening. These diseases will not affect those exposed to asbestos immediately as they often take a long time to develop. However, once diagnosed, it is often too late to do anything. More information is available at: http://www.secure.hseni.gov.uk/hiddenkiller/index.htm

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