Industrial Disease expert welcomes HSE building firm fine

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Industrial Disease expert welcomes HSE building firm fine

25th May 2011

An Industrial Disease expert has welcomed news that a Nottinghamshire building firm has been prosecuted for contaminating an elderly woman's possessions with asbestos during renovation work.

Bridget Collier, head of the Industrial Disease team at Fentons Solicitors LLP, was speaking after The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Abbott and Mason Building and Joinery Contractors Ltd of Mansfield after it carried out work at the home of 96-year-old Mrs Ann Jenkins - who has since died - in February last year.

"It is unacceptable that a building firm who were aware they were working with material containing asbestos and who would have had asbestos awareness training as a result, still failed to correctly manage the deadly material," said Bridget, a partner with the firm.

The building firm - who were removing asbestos insulation board (AIB) from a bathroom at the late Mrs Jenkin's sheltered housing in West Bridgford - contaminated many of her possessions, including furniture and clothing, with deadly asbestos fibres.

A housing warden who noticed what was happening immediately ordered the work to stop and Mrs Jenkins - who had been sitting very close to the affected bathroom - was taken to safety. After a brief stay with her family, she was relocated to another flat, but her contaminated possessions had to be destroyed.

Abbott and Mason Building and Joinery Contractors Ltd - who were also found to have put the public at risk by leaving material containing asbestos outside the sheltered housing complex - were fined a total of £20,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £5,741.

"It is a disgrace that a company who were fully aware that the material they were dealing with contained asbestos, showed such disregard for the health and safety of Mrs Jenkins, their own employees as well as members of the public," said Bridget.

"Asbestos remains the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK claiming nearly 40 lives to asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma and lung-related cancers in the UK every week," added Bridget. "Employers have known about the inherent dangers of asbestos and the associated risks of diseases such as mesothelioma since the early 1960's. It is hugely disturbing that incidents of this nature are still occurring despite the wealth of Health and Safety information on the dangers and management of asbestos in the workplace that is currently available.

"We represent many victims and their families who have been devastated by illnesses such as mesothelioma caused as a result of exposure to asbestos," said Bridget. "This case highlights yet again just how potentially dangerous a lack of proper project management can be. Had this job been properly planned and the correct procedures followed then the disturbance and subsequent release of asbestos fibres could have been avoided."

How can Fentons help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of industrial diseases including asbestos-related lung cancer and mesothelioma.

If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.

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