Senin, 21 April 2008


The hidden killer

Asbestos fibres were released into the air for nearly seven hours during a demolition job. They covered two men and put over a hundred factory workers at risk. No-one involved in the job realised that it was asbestos.

A steel chimney at a factory in Birkenhead was being demolished. It had been lowered to the ground and steeplejacks Barry Done and Richard Thompson were cutting it up. Barry started stripping away the steel cladding, sending clouds of dust into the air. The wind sent the dust blowing around the site and into the factory.

It covered the two men - who had no respiratory protection or protective clothing. When Barry went into the factory he left a trail of white footprints on the storeroom floor.

Still no-one realised that the dust was asbestos - even the contractor's safety advisor told the men not to worry.

When Barry and Richard started work the following week they asked their contracts manager to get the chimney lagging analysed. It was found to contain crocidolite and amosite (blue and brown asbestos).

The contractors were prosecuted for failing to train their employees to recognise asbestos and were fined £40,000.

The judge said that although there were no injuies now, there could be serious consequences for the two men in the future.

You can get advice on working with asbestos in the HSE pocket card Asbestos alert for building maintenance, repair and refurbishment workers.

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