Asbestos Surveyors Prosecuted – Clients wishing to cut costs beware!

At a time when money is tight the recent successful prosecution of two asbestos surveyors David Harold and Shaun Hodgson were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after they failed to identify the presence of asbestos at 32 different locations in the former Sale Hotel on Marsland Road in Sale brings to light how possibly saving money could costs lives!

Trafford Magistrates’ Court was told that Mr Harold, 49, and Mr Hodgson, 32, were hired to carry out a full asbestos survey at the disused pub ahead of a major refurbishment project to bring it back into use.

They produced a report following a visit to the site on 31 May 2011, which was used by the principal contractor to identify which areas were safe to refurbish and which required a licensed company to remove asbestos before any work could take place.

However, the report failed to identify large amounts of asbestos in the basement. As a result, workers were exposed to potentially-deadly fibres as they carried out refurbishment work, installed pipes and fitted cabling.

The company overseeing the project immediately stopped the refurbishment work and brought in a specialist firm when one of its employees raised concerns that additional unidentified asbestos may be present in the basement.

The asbestos insulation material was not hidden, and was easily spotted in the second survey.

David Harold, of Balmoral Drive in Beverley, East Yorkshire, and Shaun Hodgson, of Sherbourne Cottages in Newton upon Derwent, York, each pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 after they put the health of workers at risk.

They were each ordered to carry out 40 hours of community service in the next year and to each pay £1,500 towards the cost of the prosecution.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Matt Greenly said:

“Asbestos consultants and surveyors perform a vitally important role in the construction industry and are relied on to keep workers safe.

“Construction companies trust their expert opinions to help prevent workers from being exposed to asbestos fibres. It’s therefore essential that they do not take their minds off the job when carrying out asbestos surveys.

“Sadly Mr Harold and Mr Hodgson’s work fell way below acceptable standards, despite them being well trained and seemingly experienced asbestos surveyors.

“It is hard to understand how they could have missed so much asbestos material during their survey when it was so plainly obvious to others.”

This degree of incompetence is unforgivble for a company whoes expertise is asbestos surveying.  This poor degree of workmanship could cost people their lives ironically what these contractors where there to safeguard.  If the asbestos had been extensively hidden or difficult to access then a degree of understanding could be given but this asbestos was open and unexposed. 

A word of advice when clients seek an asbestos surveyor – cheap is not always the best!  Ensure the company commissioned is competent and understands the task.

Top Tips for Selecting a Asbestos Surevying Company: 

1. Ensure the asbestos company has the experience – ask to see previous reports of a similar property type.

2.  Ensure the company has experienced staff – when did they qualify? 

3. Ensure the company has correct indemnity insurance.

4. Have they provided a pre inspection survey before the full pre-demoition survey?

5. Do they look as if they know what they are doing?  Are they safe - do they conduct the survey in a methodical manner?

6. Do they charge by the sample or do they provide a all inclusive price? A good compnay will already have an idea of how many samples they will need.  Less experienced will charge by the sample.

7.  Do they have more than one surveyor – good companies survey with 2 surveyors for quality control reasons?

8.  Do they liaise direct with the demolition company and turn up for the demolition to watch the critical stages – good companies will provide this as part of their fees?

9.  Do they take pride in their work – or are they keen to get off site as quick as possible?

10.  Do they penetrate every part of the building to ensure they access all parts of the structure – do they undress the construction – if the place doesn’t look like a bomb site or disturned after they have left then something might be wrong?

STORM Consultancy are experience asbestos surveyors who take pride in their work.  If you don’t believe then have a look at our many asbestos surveys filmed and currently on You Tube.  http://www.youtube.com/user/STORMConsultancy?feature=mhum.  Or contact us on 0845 894 6342 or [email protected]

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