A wood processing company has been fined after unsafe asbestos work was carried out at its premises.

Following a large explosion at Wood Treatment Ltd Bosely site, the company was instructed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to fit new explosion relief panels to the warehouse. However, Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court heard how, during an inspection by two HSE inspectors to assess progress, it was noticed that asbestos cement panels of the warehouse had been removed, cut to shape with power tools and replaced, breaching the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

The HSE investigation into the incident found that while an external company had been contracted to fit the explosion relief panels, they did not work with asbestos containing materials, instead employees of Wood Treatment Ltd removed the cladding. Following installation of the panels, some remedial work was necessary to repair holes left in the wall. The old asbestos sheets were cut to size and refitted.

Although the company was fully aware of the presence of asbestos and had an asbestos survey and action plan, this information was not shared with employees and measures were not put in place to contain the risks involved.

Asbestos wall cladding has a shape and structure similar to roof sheeting, and is often found on walls/as walls of buildings with asbestos cement roofs. However, the substance is responsible for thousands of deaths in the UK every year.

If the work is likely to cause significant break up and deterioration of the material, then notification would be required. Moreover, there may be circumstances where the asbestos cement has been so badly damaged that there is significant risk of exposure to asbestos fibres. In these cases, a risk assessment will help to determine if a licensed contractor is required.

Last reviewed 28 August 2018