Company fined after exposure of employees to Asbestos fibres resulting from demolition works

Friday 27th April 2018

Today in the Cork Circuit Criminal Court Judge Sean Ó Donnabhain imposed a fine of €50,000 on Leeside Cut & Core Contractors Limited.

The company, Leeside Cut & Core Contractors Ltd., pleaded guilty to 2 offences under Section 8(2)(a) of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, contrary to Section 77(2)(a) and Regulation 7(a) of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Exposure to Asbestos) Regulations, 2006 and 2010.

The case arose as the result of demolition works at an office building at Goulds Hill, Mallow, Co. Cork. The 2 storey office building was constructed in the 1970’s and had Asbestos Insulating Board ceiling tiles containing Amosite (brown asbestos) and Chrysotile (white asbestos) on both ground and first floor. The floor tiles and bitumen also contained Chrysotile. Asbestos is a known carcinogen.

Between the 21st January 2015 and 06th February 2015 employees of Leeside Cut & Core Contractors Ltd. were involved in demolition of stud wall partitions and blockwork at the office block. These demolition works were carried out in an uncontrolled manner and as a result damage was caused to the Asbestos Insulating Board ceiling tiles resulting in exposure of these employees to Asbestos fibres.

The company (Leeside Cut & Core Contractors Ltd.) pleaded guilty to:

  • failure to manage and conduct work activity, specifically the carrying out of demolition work in circumstances where there were asbestos containing materials present, in such a way as to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable , the safety, health and welfare at work of employees, in that the demolition was being carried out in an uncontrolled fashion causing damage to the asbestos ceiling tiles and floor tiles on the premises exposing employees to the risk of inhaling asbestos fibres and
  • Undertaking work which would be liable to expose employees to dust arising from either or both asbestos or materials containing asbestos in circumstances where they had failed to carry out a risk assessment as to whether asbestos or asbestos containing materials were present or liable to be present. 

At Mallow District Court in February 2018 the Client company in this particular case, AV Pound and Company Ltd, pleaded guilty to Regulation 6(1)(a) of the Safety , Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013, contrary to Section 77(2)(c) of the Safety Health & Welfare at Work Act 2005 (Failure of client to appoint in writing a competent Project Supervisor Design Process at or before start of design process ) and was fined €750 with €3,000 costs awarded.

Sharon McGuinness, Assistant Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority said:

“Asbestos containing materials remain a significant hazard in older buildings. Exposure to asbestos fibres can lead to fatal diseases many years after the last exposure has taken place. It is a critical requirement of the 2006-2010 Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Exposure to Asbestos) Regulations that all employers, particularly in the construction and demolition sector identify the presence of asbestos containing materials. This should be done in advance of any maintenance, refurbishment or demolition in buildings built prior to 2000. In practice, this can be achieved by requesting the results of an asbestos survey from the client or owner of the building or engaging a competent asbestos surveyor to conduct an intrusive refurbishment or demolition asbestos survey.

This particular case highlighted that attempts to demolish structures below or adjacent to high-risk asbestos containing materials should not be attempted. All reasonable attempts should be made to remove all such materials by competent asbestos removal contractors prior to any demolition techniques being applied.”