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Untrained asbestos surveyor missed chrysotile and amosite

A property management consultancy and an asbestos surveyor have been handed a penalty exceeding £15,000 for supplying an inadequate refurbishment and demolition survey for major structural work.

Untrained asbestos surveyor missed chrysotile and amosite
Image credit: ©iStock/j4m3z

Dudley Magistrates’ Court was told that Home Inspectors Southern, which carried out the survey, had failed to identify asbestos cement and insulating board containing chrysotile (white) and amosite (brown) asbestos. 

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the worker who carried out the survey had no training in asbestos surveying or previous experience with a qualified person or accredited organisation. 

The survey incorrectly advised that a non-licensed contractor could be employed to remove the large quantities of asbestos insulating board identified.

The HSE also found that the client, Vital Property Solutions, had not asked Home Inspectors Southern for any information to prove its skills, knowledge, experience or training in asbestos surveying. 

Vital Property Solutions pleaded guilty to breaching s 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £8,400. Home Inspectors Southern pleaded guilty to the same offence and was fined £4,800. Both companies must pay costs of £930. 

HSE inspector Edward Fryer said: “Asbestos surveyors have a duty of care to those persons who use the information they provide. The survey missed a significant amount of asbestos contaminated materials (ACMs) thus increasing the risk to workers, who would be disturbing the fabric of the building during the refurbishment/demolition project. “The risk arises from workers unknowingly working on ACM and not taking effective precautions to prevent exposure and spread of asbestos fibers.” 


Keeley Downey was the former assistant editor of IOSH Magazine. Previously she was editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine

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  • would like to know if any

    Permalink Submitted by girish r phatarpekar on 6 June 2018 - 05:30 pm

    would like to know if any study has been carried out on asbestos fumes from industrial and vehicle , clutch and brakes.

    • In my experience the brake

      Permalink Submitted by Nick Johnston on 8 June 2018 - 01:52 pm

      In my experience the brake and clutch friction material is asbestos free, unless the vehicle is very old pre-1980. Materials used include sinterred copper, steel and other heat absorbing materials, but no asbestos. The dust from both should still be controlled.

  • I believe that certain

    Permalink Submitted by Terry Pike on 18 July 2018 - 01:32 am

    I believe that certain vehicle brake pads had an exemption from the 1999 ban on all asbestos types up untill 2004 (vehicles manufactured prior to 1970). It is also legal in America to manufa ture break linings using asbestos and of course countries like China, therefore the posibility that imported pads or vehicles may have asbestos in them. Most older lifts can also bd presumed to contain asbestos. Airborne dust is the problem not fumes, There should be sgudies abouf thd risks, the HSE has a link to this subject.


  • Even Experiances surveyours

    Permalink Submitted by Dave Taylor on 18 July 2018 - 09:30 am

    Even Experiances surveyours miss ACM`s, whilst not conversant with this case. there is often too much pressure on all contractors to "get the survey done" within a limited time frame and often whilst the building is still occupied. Thats why with many larger survey "Acreddited" companies there are reams and reams of Caveats.
    The answer is
    1. proper awareness training making sure all Non asbestos operatives realise ACM`s can be missed for a variety of reasons from lack of proper access to simple Human factors.
    2.That other contractors on site are ready and willing to "Stop Work" when materials are suspected of being ACM`s and are re investigated.
    3. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY a Phase survey plan is implemented where by an initial survey is carried out, then followed up when the site is TOTALLY free for proper demolition and even then further visits may be called for.
    Accrediation will not stop materials being missed - it just makes sure procedures are in place to protect the surveying company from prosecutions when things like this happen.

    AS a PS a study was carried out re vehicle Brake and clutch fitting- cant remember when published - but should be traceable in "Annals of Work Exposures and Health" Oxford University Press. From what I can remember It combined all data from 1950`s USA and UK fitting shops and found that there was no significant rise in Mesophelioma ar lung cancer deaths. Not suprising really as these places are mostly? well ventilated and the product ACM contains Mainly Chrysotile that will be affected by even Damp conditions. Dave T Member BOHS, AFOH.CoCA


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