Firm is fined over asbestos danger

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A BARTON demolition firm has been fined more than £10,000 after exposing workers to deadly asbestos while knocking down a former photography factory.

IBT Contracting, which is based at Barton Lane, Barton, was ordered to pay a £10,800 fine and more than £3,600 in prosecution costs after admitting breaching safety regulations when knocking down the building in the Lake District.

It pleaded guilty to three breaches of regulations for removing asbestos without a licence and exposing both its workers and local people to deadly fibres during the work in Staveley, near Kendal, last summer.

Allen Shute, the investigating inspector for the Health and Safety Executive, said the firm had put people’s lives at risk by “cutting corners”.

He said: “Several houses back on to the site of the factory so local residents were also put at risk, although luckily the level of their exposure to asbestos fibres is likely to have been relatively low.

“However, the workers on the site will now have to live with the knowledge that they may develop a deadly asbestos-related disease in the years to come because of the actions of IBT Contracting.

“Asbestos was used in ceiling tiles up until the 1980s to help insulate buildings.

“The tiles only become dangerous if they are broken up and asbestos fibres are released into the air.”

The hearing at Kendal Magistrates Court yesterday heard that IBT had been given a survey by the owners of the site ahead of the work taking place, which stated that the building contained 166 square metres of asbestos ceiling tiles.

It failed to arrange for a licenced contractor to remove the tiles safely, instead releasing deadly fibres into the area.

If breathed in, the fibres can become lodged in lungs or the digestive tract and may lead to lung cancer or other diseases if large numbers of fibres are inhaled.