A demolition company in Cheltenham, UK has been fined for committing blatant disregard for health and safety by illegally removing a large amount of asbestos-contaminated building waste from a property in Gloucester and exposing its workers to dangerous asbestos fibres.

The UK Health and Safety Executive, known as the HSE, prosecuted the company, DA Environmental Services LTD in court. They were found guilty of committing three major breaches of regulations related to the safe removal of asbestos.

The company had done a survey before demolishing the building and was aware that it contained asbestos. They had received a health and safety report letting them know that the building materials containing asbestos should have been removed in a safe and controlled manner before demolition was to begin.

However, the company ignored this information and had its employees demolish the building anyway, directly handling the dangerous material. The employees were exposed to potentially significant amounts of asbestos fibres as they carried out the work. The investigation also found that the company had failed to dispose of the asbestos waste properly according to health and safety regulations and was guilty of potentially spreading the danger into the chain of waste. They were fined £15,000 as well as costs of £1,452.

By being exposed to this level of asbestos, the employees of this company have had their risk of developing the lung cancer Mesothelioma greatly increased. This is a very specific form of cancer which develops when the lungs are exposed to asbestos fibres. The disease can lie dormant for many years without displaying symptoms and then can flare up suddenly years and even decades later. It is caused by tiny microscopic fibres of asbestos, which are inhaled and then trapped in the lungs. Approximately 3000 people die every year in the UK from diseases related to exposure to asbestos.

The company, DA Environmental, should have removed the asbestos material from the building in a safe and approved way. By failing to do so and undertaking the work themselves they needlessly exposed their workers to dangerous levels of asbestos fibres. The danger of asbestos fibres is a very serious health and safety concern and it should be dealt with in a controlled and regulated manner to avoid any health risks associated with exposure to the fibres.