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Construction cos’ ceiling tile oversight exposed workers to asbestos

A principal contractor (PC) on a school refurb project and a construction firm appointed to carry out work on its behalf must pay fines totaling £112k after exposing workers for a subcontractor to asbestos fibres.

Construction cos’ ceiling tile oversight exposed workers to asbestos
© iStock/ j4m3z

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found PC Ashe Construction had appointed cladding installer Cladceil to carry out the refurbishment at Oakwood Junior school in Derby on 1 August 2016 during the school holidays. The Nottingham-based company had subcontracted the work to another company and its workers had been asked to remove suspended ceiling tiles from rooms in the school.

Unaware of the risk, two workers entered a storage room and started to remove ceiling tiles made of asbestos containing materials, potentially exposing themselves to the harmful fibres. A licensed asbestos removal company working on the site alerted management and the removal work was stopped to deal with the contamination. 

The HSE found Ashe Construction had failed to effectively plan, manage and monitor the work to prevent the accidental removal of the contaminated tiles. It had also failed to explain the location of the asbestos, leaving the storage room open without barriers or signs warning of the hazardous material. 

Cladceil also failed to effectively plan, manage and monitor the work. Although it had appointed a subcontractor, the cladding installer only provided the company with a generic risk assessment and method statement, which failed to identify important information, including the asbestos risk.

Hitchin-based Ashe Construction, pleaded guilty to breaching reg 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and s 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act at Derby Crown Court. The PC was fined £100,000 and must pay £9,760 costs.

Cladceil pleaded guilty to reg 15(2) of CDM 2015 and was fined £12,000 with £47,184 costs.

The HSE confirmed that the client did provide Ashe Construction with a survey report.


Nic Warburton is acting editor, IOSH Magazine

 Nick Warburton was previously acting editor of IOSH Magazine. Before that he was editor of SHP and he has also worked on Local Authority Waste and Recycling and Environmental Health Practitioner


  • What's missing from this

    Permalink Submitted by Peter Gotch on 18 January 2019 - 12:16 pm

    What's missing from this story is any information as to whether a refurbishment asbestos survey report had been provided by the Client to the Principal Contractor. If not, it's puzzling that the client was not amongst those prosecuted.

    • Hi Peter, thanks for your

      Permalink Submitted by Wendy_Smith on 22 January 2019 - 12:25 pm

      Hi Peter, thanks for your feedback. We have followed up on this and are waiting for a response. 

    • Hi Peter, I've just heard

      Permalink Submitted by Nick_Warburton on 22 January 2019 - 02:09 pm

      Hi Peter, I've just heard back from the HSE. All they have said is that the client did provide a survey report to the PC. I will add this into the story now. 

  • Cladceil Limited, from N

    Permalink Submitted by Bill Sowerbutts on 25 February 2019 - 11:30 pm

    Cladceil Limited, from Nottingham - £47, 000 costs and a £12,000 fine - is that true _ I've never seen costs outweigh a fine by four times before? Yet all reports say it - it just looks wrong?

    • Hi Bill. Sorry for the d

      Permalink Submitted by Nick Warburton on 29 March 2019 - 10:12 am

      Hi Bill. Sorry for the delay in responding. I have double checked this with the HSE and they say that the figure is correct.


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