Last reviewed 23 March 2021

Greif UK, an industrial packaging manufacturer and CFS, a maintenance contractor have been fined after workers disturbed asbestos when dismantling a large industrial oven.

Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard that, between March and May 2019, C Facilities Support Ltd, trading as CFS, had been contracted by Greif UK to remove redundant equipment from its premises at Ellesmere Port.

While asbestos was suspected in the oven gaskets and rope seals and was confirmed by a sample survey that both companies were aware of, demolition works continued by CFS operatives. Furthermore, Greif UK had instructed a worker to clean the area works without knowledge of the asbestos containing material or suitable control measures in place. The area was also being used daily by Greif employees, as a thoroughfare to other parts of the factory.

Investigating Health and Safety Executive officers found that before the demolition work had started, no risk assessment, plan of work or demolition survey had been carried out on the oven. A full survey was carried out which confirmed asbestos containing materials to be present within the oven at multiple locations. The materials were found to be in poor condition, having been disturbed and damaged during dismantling of the oven. Greif UK failed to inform CFS in advance of the presence of asbestos in the oven and employees were not informed of the potential of exposure. Neither company had a suitable safe system of work in place or provided adequate information, instruction and training to employees.

Those in charge of premises are reminded of their duty to inform contractors of the presence of asbestos containing materials, ensuring that works are carried out safely and those undertaking work which is likely to disturb asbestos, or asbestos containing materials should ensure that building occupants and operatives are not exposed to asbestos. Those undertaking the work should also provide suitable information, instruction and training to their employees.

Greif UK was fined £100,000 plus costs and CFS £7000 plus costs.