A local authority and it’s contractor have been fined after a worker left a family exposed to dangerous asbestos fibres for three days.

City of Lincoln Council and County Waste (Lincs) Ltd were prosecuted by the HSE after insulation boards were incorrectly removed.

In Court it was revealed that the City Council was refurnishing the bathroom of a property in the city and contracted County Waste (Lincs) Ltd to investigate the removal of asbestos insulation boards.  However, County Waste (Lincs) Ltd was not licensed to work with asbestos.

The employee carrying out the work lacked adequate information or training about the hazards from exposure to asbestos.  The Court was told he simply prised off the panels using a crowbar, breaking them in the process before putting the pieces in a sack for disposal.

Broken panels and asbestos debris were left on the bathroom floor and the worker walked around for the rest of the day in clothing that may have been contaminated with asbestos fibres.

The tenant complained to the Council and employees visited the property to carry out an inspection, however they failed to tell the tenant there was a problem and did not move the family to another property for three days.

After pleading guilty to number of health and safety breaches, City of Lincoln Council was fined £10,000 and County Waste (Lincs) Ltd was fined £4,250 and ordered to pay costs of £12,000 and £6,000 respectively.

HSE Inspector Martin Giles said:

“The Council failed to ensure the contractor was competent to carry out the work and had no procedures in place to be followed in the event of serious and imminent danger to its employees. It failed to protect its tenants and ensure that they were not exposed to risks to their health following the release of asbestos fibres.”

“Not informing the family about the seriousness of the problem and leaving them in the property for three days before re-housing them was an irresponsible and unacceptable act for a landlord.”

Because County Waste (Lincs) Ltd failed to provide adequate information, instruction and training to ensure employees liable to be exposed to asbestos were able to safeguard themselves and others, it did nothing to prevent the spread of asbestos from the bathroom and removed the material from the property without being in an appropriately sealed receptacle or wrapping.”

“Asbestos is a hidden killer and the HSE has a wealth of information on it’s website to help employers manage the risks of working with the material.  There is no excuse for ignorance when dealing with people’s lives.”

If you have had any similar experience, please contact our freephone number 0800 294 3065 for free advice on what you should do to report any breaches.