Companies Penalised Following Asbestos Exposure of 16-Year-Old Worker

Two companies have been fined following an incident in which a 16-year-old worker was exposed to asbestos.

The young worker was employed by P Turnbull Joinery and Building Services Ltd to work on an outbuilding of a domestic property. This property, located in Richmond, North Yorkshire, was undergoing refurbishment after Alt Berg Holding Limited hired the firm for the job.

On 7th June, 2021, the teenager was tasked with breaking up cement sheets from the property’s roof and disposing of them in a skip. It was later discovered that these cement sheets contained asbestos, leading to the worker’s exposure to hazardous fibres.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that Alt Berg Holdings Limited had neglected to conduct an asbestos refurbishment and demolition survey. Such a survey would have detected the presence of asbestos. Additionally, P Turnbull Joinery and Building Services Ltd had not adequately assessed the work, resulting in the failure to prevent asbestos exposure to the worker.

P Turnbull Joinery and Building Services Ltd, based in Attwood Terrace, Wolsingham, Durham, admitted to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £500 in costs by Peterlee Magistrates’ Court on June 20, 2024.

Alt Berg Holdings Limited, located on Moor Road, Melsonby, Richmond, North Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(4) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. They were fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £1,950 in costs at the same court session.

HSE Principal Inspector Chris Tilley remarked, “A suitable and sufficient asbestos refurbishment and demolition survey of the building undertaken by the client and provided to the contractor before work started would have identified the presence of asbestos in the roofing materials. The contractor could have ensured that suitable controls were put in place and the asbestos removed safely before further work was undertaken.

“This incident could so easily have been avoided by the provision of suitable and sufficient pre-construction information, effective communication between the parties, and the use of correct control measures and safe working practices.”

This prosecution was carried out by HSE enforcement lawyer Chloe Ward, with support from HSE paralegal officer Rebecca Withell.