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Asbestos Exposure has left a plumber with an uncertain medical future

A construction company was at the centre of a legal battle and has now been fined £600 after one of their builders was exposed to very high levels of a type of asbestos linked to malignant and incurable cancer.

The builder who was exposed to the asbestos, can now only wait and see what long term damage may have been done to him.

He was fitting pipework for a new central heating system at a new housing development when he was exposed for approximately five hours to high levels of blue asbestos (crocidolite).

Asbestos exposure is linked to a whole range of very serious diseases. These include lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma. The latter disease is a malignant and incurable cancer. Of the three main asbestos types, crocidolite is associated with the highest risk of developing the deadly mesothelioma.

Types of Asbestos

In its natural state, asbestos is commonly a white, brown, or blue fibrous mineral that has a wide range of practical applications, unfortunately it is also an extremely deadly carcinogen. There are six different varieties of asbestos, but the three most common types are:

  • Chrysotile, also known as white asbestos, originates in Canada. It is from a “serpentine” rock, which means its fibers are curled and less sharp, pose fewer threats than other types of asbestos and is the type most often used industrially.
  • Amosite, is called brown asbestos, is an “amphibole” from Africa. Amphibole rocks have long, jagged, needle like fibers that are considerably dangerous if inhaled.
  • Crocidolite, or blue asbestos, is an amphibole rock found in Africa and Australia. Blue asbestos is commonly considered the most dangerous type of asbestos.

What are the other three types of asbestos?

The other three types of asbestos are tremolite, actinolite and anthophyllite.

Prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

In a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) against the buildings owners, the Magistrates Court heard that the airborne substance was disturbed and spread throughout the building during refurbishment.

The court was also told that, for a five hour period, the worker was estimated to have been exposed to a high concentration of airborne asbestos fibres that were many times over the control limit.

The HSE investigated the incident and found that the company concerned had failed to carry out a refurbishment and demolition survey to establish the presence and condition of any asbestos in the building.

The company also failed to provide any suitable information to contractors prior to the start of the refurbishment works. This resulted in uncontrolled disturbance of the loose fill blue asbestos located within the fabric of the building.

When an HSE specialist inspector visited the work site under controlled conditions, loose fill blue asbestos insulation material could be clearly seen in the area where the worker had spent a long time on all fours fitting pipework.

The HSE inspector said: "Asbestos is a potent carcinogen and is especially common in buildings that were constructed between 1950 and 1980. As this particular building was constructed in the 1960s, the company concerned should have been aware of the probable risk of asbestos being present in the building and should have carried out an appropriate level of investigation to prevent any of their workers from being exposed to any asbestos.

"The damage to their workers health after being exposed to such a high level of this deadly carcinogen could be extremely serious and he now has to wait to find out what the long term effects of this unnecessary and avoidable exposure will be."

The company concerned in this case admitted breaching Regulation 10 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. The company was fined £600 with £6,013.45 in costs.

Further Information

If you would like to know more or are interested in a quote we would be happy to help. Phone us on 07730 446 224, email us at info@survey-safe.com or fill in our enquiry form and we will be in touch as soon as possible.

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