Public Asbestos Exposure Leads to £90k Fine for Construction Company

Esskay Construction Ltd has been issued a fine of £90,000 in relation to a case of public asbestos exposure during renovation activities in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. The incident came to light on 31st August 2021, when the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) received a report concerning the disturbance of asbestos within a refurbishment project overseen by the company on Brunswick Street, Hanley.

Upon visiting the site, HSE representatives uncovered a significant instance of public asbestos exposure. This exposure was attributed to the presence of asbestos-containing debris that had been left both in front of the building and along the public highway.

A notable aspect of the case was the absence of a comprehensive asbestos survey conducted on the premises before the commencement of refurbishment activities. The subsequent investigation by HSE revealed that Esskay Construction Ltd had neglected to engage a competent refurbishment and demolition asbestos survey prior to the initiation of work on the site.

Regrettably, the company initiated refurbishment tasks without a clear understanding of the areas that were affected, leading to a scenario where public asbestos exposure occurred.

While Esskay Construction Ltd did not appear in court, it was found guilty of contravening Regulations 5, 11, and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. The outcome of the case was a fine of £90,000 imposed on the company. Additionally, Esskay Construction Ltd was directed to cover costs amounting to £6,009, along with a victim surcharge of £190.

The Dangers of Asbestos – A Call to Vigilance

Will Gretton, an HSE inspector, conveyed the gravity of the situation: “Asbestos is a class 1 carcinogen which is known to kill around 20 tradesmen each week. Carelessness at this scale, met with a failure to attend court, is unacceptable.”

He further emphasised the critical importance of adhering to safety measures and protocols related to asbestos handling. By neglecting these fundamental precautions, Esskay Construction Ltd jeopardised the safety of workers and members of the public, exposing them to a substance notorious for causing severe illnesses such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.

The case serves as a stark reminder of the imperative to treat asbestos exposure with the utmost seriousness, ensuring the safety and well-being of both workers and the wider community.