People living near the site alerted the Dorset Authorities that the construction works were producing significant amounts of physical dust. The Health & Safety Executive visited the site which was being converted into residential properties and following their sampling tests the construction company was fined for failing in its duty to protect the public.
After the hearing HSE inspector Kathy Gostick said “This sentence sends a clear message that employers must check for the presence of asbestos and take measures to ensure its safe handling and removal and to avoid its spread. Asbestos is extremely harmful to human health and exposure to asbestos is the most serious occupational health issue in the country, with more than 4,000 people dying every year from asbestos related diseases”. Asbestos dust, if disturbed and released into the air is highly dangerous to those living nearby the source.
A Japanese study published in July 2010 reported a sharp increase in cancer mortality for residents of a neighbourhood in the vicinity of an asbestos manufacturing facility. The company worked only with white asbestos (also known as chrysotile). Those continuing to mine and trade in asbestos in certain parts of the world such as Canada, Russia and India will say that white asbestos is safe. This is known not to be the case and there can be no grounds for complacency.
Closer to home it is increasingly worrying that even today construction companies are attempting to cuts costs by not properly surveying development sites for evidence of asbestos in the buildings. Even with all the media coverage about the dangers of disturbing asbestos in buildings coupled with stringent and mandatory regulations, many workers simply do not recognise asbestos when then come across it until it is too late. The legal onus for many years had been placed fairly and squarely on the shoulders of employers and occupiers, who have a duty to carry out a full and comprehensive survey aimed at identifying and evaluating the risk posed by asbestos. However at best there is still ignorance and complacency, and at worst profit is being put before workers health and safety.
If you think you may have been affected by asbestos dust in the past or have fears about any construction work currently in progress near you please don’t delay, contact your local council for advice.
We support a worldwide ban on asbestos and asbestos products. If you think that any of these issues have affected you or your family please call Simpson Millar on 0808 129 3320 for friendly legal advice.