The question of  following asbestos awareness training within the building industry is once again brought to public attention just this week as the latest case of neglect of the regulatory procedures was brought before the magistrates courts.

Fifteen months previously, a building contractor based in the north of England was requested to specify for renovation work at the sheltered accommodation of a 96 year old woman. Failure to identify the presence of asbestos or to follow the set procedure as prescribed under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 to prepare a “written plan of work” led to the firm’s staff simply carrying out the waste removal without any further inspection or safety procedures carried out.

Included in the ‘General Requirements’ of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 are that a company must possess a legal license to work with asbestos and is obliged to notify in advance of working with asbestos. Clear information, instruction and training must be provided to employees with arrangements to deal with accidents, incidents and emergencies set into place.

In this instance, the firm did not possess the required asbestos license, failed to contact an authorised asbestos removal contractor and proceeded to carry out the removal of friable white asbestos ( chrysotile) boards without proper safety bagging, protective clothing or sealing of the work area. Finally, a domestic vacuum cleaner was used to clean up the asbestos dust!

Pleading guilty to five breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006, the building firm was ordered to pay a substantial fine as well as legal costs.

Disregard of today’s statutory Building and Health and Safety Regulations, which should form the basis of a building worker’s formal skills training, are  still too frequently reported. Since the UK ban on asbestos use in the building industry from the 1970s onwards, it is well know that there are many buildings in existence which still contain white asbestos insulating board (AIB), which are a potential risk if the friable material is disturbed and the asbestos fibre dust released into the air.

Deliberate refusal to comply with safety regulations throughout many industries working with asbestos up until the 1980s and even the 90s, still brings many asbestosis or mesothelioma compensation cases to court.

Today, there is still a rising number of mesothelioma compensation or asbestosis claim cases which asbestosis lawyers pursue on behalf of victims, surviving spouses or their families. In 2008, mesothelioma was responsible for over 2,200 deaths and in the following year, over 800 new cases of asbestosis were reported. At present, an estimated 4,000 deaths are recorded from asbestos-related disease in the UK.