The Health and Safety Executive is to offer free asbestos awareness courses, as two cases of failure to protect workers from exposure highlight the ongoing problem across the industry.
In the first case, Birmingham City Council and Solihull Supplies were prosecuted when three men were exposed to asbestos while working on the refurbishment of William Cowper community Primary School.
Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard that two workers had been tasked with stripping tiles from seven rooms in the school.
It was later found that these contained asbestos and had resulted in the two workers and the school’s caretaker being exposed.
Birmingham City Council was fined £5,000, with £1,091 costs, while the contractor was fined £1,750, with £1,091 costs.
Another case involved South Kesteven District Council and Belton Developments, when workers employed by the latter disturbed asbestos when renovating a flat in Grantham owned by the local authority.
The danger was spotted by an asbestos surveyor working for the council, who stopped the men working on site.
South Kesteven DC reported the incident to the HSE, leading to its prosecution alongside its contractor.
In a move to tackle the problem, the HSE is now encouraging training organisations, including Independent Asbestos Training Providers and the UK Asbestos Training Association, to work with it in partnership in a move that aims to provide 4,000 hours of free asbestos awareness training.
The training courses will be available throughout October and November and aimed at to trades including plumbers, electricians and joiners.