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Motor Manufacturer fined over asbestos contamination

A motor manufacturer has been fined after discovery of asbestos boarding panels contaminated a site.

General Motors UK Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after work being undertaken at its North Road, Ellesmere Port site in 2014 exposed contractors to risks associated with asbestos.

An investigation by the HSE found that during work to replace high pressure hot water boilers with gas burners in the company's paint unit, suspected asbestos insulating boards (AIB) were discovered beneath external cladding on the stores building.

Liverpool Crown Court heard no assessment of the risk was undertaken by General Motors to determine if the work was notifiable or licensed asbestos work. On completion of the work licensed contractors were employed to conduct a clean-up and decontamination programme of the roof and in the stores.

General Motors UK Ltd, of Osborne Road, Luton, Bedfordshire, pleaded guilty to a single breach of Section 3 (1) the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £ 11,779 in prosecution costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Jane Carroll said: "Asbestos kills around 5,000 workers each year; this is more than the number killed on UK roads. Asbestos can be present within any premises built or refurbished before the year 2000.

"Whenever asbestos containing materials are found to be present, companies have a legal duty to document and implement an Asbestos Management Plan which includes measures to adequately control the risk of exposure to asbestos fibres."  For the full story click here.

This situation is easily prevented by ensuring that there is a current asbestos refurbishment survey and management plan available prior to any works taking place.  All those involved, building owners and contractors alike, must review the survey findings and plan the work accordingly.  This may mean removal or planning the work so that the Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) are not disturbed.

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