Michael Southern, owner of PMF Cladding, instructed an employee and a casual labourer to remove and replace soffit boards during refurbishment work, despite being informed by a neighbour that they were made of asbestos insulating board. A complaint was made to the HSE and, after a visit by an inspector, work was halted on the site. Mr Southern knew from previous jobs that soffit boards may contain asbestos, but had not taken this into account when assessing this job. He had also failed to provide information and training to workers who could be exposed to asbestos fibres.
Dutyholders should identify the type, location and condition of all asbestos-containing materials, and establish appropriate precautions, before starting removal operations.
Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK. It is responsible for around 4,500 deaths each year.