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Timber repair firm responsible for spread of asbestos fibres in shop

Potentially deadly asbestos fibres were spread in part of a shop by unqualified workmen and left on the premises for three weeks.

In a prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), on 13 June, Cardiff Magistrates heard that Timberwise (UK) Ltd., a national company specialising in damp and timber repairs, committed four offences under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.

The court was told that Timberwise was contracted to carry out the work in an antiques shop at in High Street, Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan in July, 2011. Timberwise sent employees to work on the site to survey and strip out parts of the building affected by damp and wood rot, without checking for the presence of asbestos.

None of the workers had received sufficient information, instruction or training in asbestos awareness or removal and Timberwise did not have a license to remove or handle asbestos containing materials.

Asbestos insulation boards were removed in a back room by one of the workers and the ceiling was demolished. The uncontrolled removal of the asbestos boards and demolition work caused the disturbance and spread of asbestos fibres.

Instead of arranging for the proper disposal of the asbestos, the dust was swept into rubble bags and dumped in a skip lorry, along with the asbestos insulation boards. The asbestos material was immediately identified at the waste transfer site and were collected by Timberwise and left in the backyard of the shop.

Timberwise (UK) Ltd., of Drake Mews, Gadbrook Park, Rudheath, Cheshire, pleaded guilty to four offences under the Control of Asbestos Regulations and was fined the following amounts:

- Section 5 (duty to identify the presence of asbestos) £4,500
- Section 8 (work with a licensed asbestos material) £4,500
- Section 10 (duty to provide information, instruction and training) £4,500
- Section 16 (duty to prevent of reduce the spread of asbestos) £4,500

The company was also ordered to pay £5,314 in costs.


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