Piperhill Construction fined £8k over removal of asbestos
A contractor who admitted breaching Health and Safety legislation while removing asbestos panels from a block of flats has been fined a total of £8,000.
Piperhill Construction Ltd had been carrying out refurbishment work on the stairwells of Kilbroney House in the Cregagh area of Belfast on August 25, 2011.
Prosecutor David McAughey said the work essentially entailed the removal of 28 asbestos panels, measuring three feet by one foot, from the 14-storey Housing Executive apartment block.
Mr McAughey said when Health and Safety inspectors investigated they found two workers wearing simple masks had removed up to half of the panels.
The court heard that asbestos fibres had been exposed, and that the area should have been sealed off and extractors put in place to remove asbestos particles.
Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland said it was clear from the outset there was "some confusion" as to what work was envisaged under the contract.
The Crown Court judge said in such circumstances the company, based at Acorn Business Centre, Riara Avenue, Ballymoney, would – as was its practice –have engaged another company to do such specialist work.
This would have cost an extra £75,000, nothing like the £5,000 set aside in the contract.
Following the hearing, Anne Cassidy, an inspector with the Heath and Safety Executive's major investigation team, said: "The dangers of asbestos are well-known. Past exposure to asbestos fibres is the greatest cause of work-related death in the UK.
"There is no safe level of asbestos and it is a legal requirement that contractors keep to the correct procedures."