Family of late asbestos victim appeals for information

asbestos management


Comprehensive asbestos surveys in Birmingham may now thankfully be widespread practice, but that has sadly come too late for many of those to come into contact with the lethal substance. One such person was West Bromwich father-of-four Gary Williams, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in October 2012, before dying in July 2013.

Although mesothelioma – a cancer in the lining of the lungs – is strongly associated with exposure to the deadly dust, his family is still unsure exactly how that occurred, leading his daughter, Claire, to appeal for information from her father’s one-time colleagues at Rugeley Power Station, where he previously worked as a scaffolder.

It was initially the 66-year old himself who instructed Irwin Mitchell’s specialist industrial disease solicitors to investigate whether every possible measure was taken to avoid him coming into contact with asbestos – a fight for justice that Claire has continued on his behalf. She and Irwin Mitchell are requesting that Gary’s former co-workers at the British Building and Engineering Association (BB and EA) between 1965 and 1971 get in touch with them.

Not only is it thought that these workers could possess invaluable evidence concerning the substance’s presence at the various sites where Gary was contracted to work, but they may also be able to provide insight into the company’s working conditions. Gary was handed his devastating diagnosis of terminal disease at a time when the family was still struggling to come to terms with his wife Betty’s sudden death in summer 2012.

Importance of Asbestos Surveys

Asbestos was once hailed as the miracle building material but it soon became clear that prolonged exposure caused severe illness and death. This material was still being used in the 1970’s but the substance was finally banned in 1999. Asbestos might not always be dangerous straight away, but if any fibres are present, these can become airborne which can then prove a severe health risk to those in contact with the asbestos. It’s vital that asbestos surveys are carried out when dealing with buildings that were constructed or had maintenance performed between 1950 and 1999.Asbestos can be found in some of the following places such as ceiling tiles, stud walls and partitions, water tanks and toilet cisterns. There are several types of asbestos surveys, recently known as Type 1, Type 2, Type 3 until 2010, but for ease of identification these are known as the following; Management Survey, Demolition Survey and Refurbishment Survey.A Management Asbestos Survey is when a none domestic property is surveyed to identify the presence of asbestos within areas that are easily accessible and then evaluate the condition of the asbestos. After asbestos is found a management plan is needed when any asbestos is found and this plan should be kept up to date.A demolition/refurbishment survey is done when a property is due to undergo some sort of work, and asbestos may need to be identified within the work area. This survey could involve taking a small sample from a small area to larger areas being disturbed. All occupants will have to leave the building whilst the demolition/refurbishment survey is taking place, this is basic safety measures to ensure that no one comes into contact with the samples or potentially harmful asbestos.As legislation is ever changing when dealing with asbestos (all in favour of protecting people from its exposure as much as possible) changes are often made to the current legislation, such as in the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and Regulation Duty 4 to Manage. Under the new ‘Duty to Manage’ regulations there is a greater responsibility for building owners, agents and landlords to identify and manage the risk of materials containing asbestos in their premises. It is the duty holder’s responsibility to do some of the following:

  • Identify asbestos containing materials (ACMs), and then assess the risk of the ACM.
  • Write a plan with details on how to manage the risk of exposure to asbestos
  • Follow through with the plan, and then review and monitor the cooperation of the plan.
  • Inform the relevant people (tenants, working staff etc) of the location and the condition of the AMC.

There are some changes to the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, but on the whole changes have remained limited. Some changes include such as some non licensed work must be notified to the relevant enforcing authority.Trident Surveying can provide several quotes to suit your budget needs if you need an asbestos survey, just drop us an email or give us a call to find out more about what we can offer you.

Former textile worker died from asbestos exposure

Asbestos laggingIt’s not just tradesmen that can be regularly exposed to asbestos.A former textile worker from Bradford died earlier this year after being exposed to the dangerous material. It was found that the lady had been exposed unknowingly to asbestos most of her life.A hearing in Bradford was told that 69 year old Margaret Bentham of Thornton, Bradford died at her home in February this year after being diagnosed with mesothelioma.Having worked as a machinist in various factories in Bradford she may have been in contact with the deadly asbestos material most of her life.A post mortem examination found that Miss Bentham had died from malignant mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos.A written statement made with Miss Bentham’s solicitor’s before her death detailed her working history. For almost 22 years she had worked mainly repairing industrial garments such as overalls.The statement included her experiences in one of her previous jobs in the textile industry which was in a three storey, Victorian styled property in Vicar Lane, Bradford.In this property she sat about 10 feet away from three steam presses which had asbestos lagged pipes.Asbestos lagging is known to be one of the most dangerous materials containing asbestos. As stated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).Miss Bentham said that to get past the pipes she used to brush against them and that she would get dust on her and on the garments. She used to pat the dust of, which would mean that she would be inhaling the deadly fibres.In approximately 11 years at this workplace Miss Bentham could not remember the pipes being repaired or replaced.A verdict that she had died of industrial disease was recorded by Bradford assistant coroner Tim Ratcliffe.He said: “I am satisfied that during her working life she could have been exposed to fibres of asbestos which led to malignant mesothelioma.“It seems clear to me certainly that on the balance of probabilities that on that basis industrial disease is the appropriate verdict for this case.”

Contractor fined for exposing workers to Asbestos

A Decorating and Refurbishment contractor has been fined for exposing employees, agency staff and members of the public to asbestos.In 2009 a refurbishment project was undertaken over several weeks at Sentinel House, Nuffield Industrial, Poole by MJC Decorating and Refurbishing Ltd.During the project the contractor began removing ceilings at the two story block without carrying out a suitable asbestos survey in advance to determine whether asbestos was present. The appropriate survey prior to any works being carried out would have been the asbestos Refurbishment Survey.When visiting the site the HSE Inspector found widespread asbestos contamination both inside and outside the building. Investigations also revealed that some of the other material that had been removed from the site may have been asbestos containing but may have been treat as non hazardous material.As a result of the contractors actions four employees and fourteen agency staff working under the control of the contractor had been exposed to the dangerous asbestos fibres.It took over two weeks for the MJC Contractors to remove the asbestos insulation board (AIB) ceiling. During this period the contractors were only wearing normal clothing and face masks if worn at all.MJC Decorating and Refurbishing Ltd, of London Road, North Cheam, Sutton, Surrey, pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations. It was fined a total of £45,000 and ordered to pay £36,943 in costs.Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector, Helena Tinton, said:”This was a very serious incident which carries severe risks for people’s health.”MJC’s safety failings led to the needless exposure to dangerous asbestos fibres of its employees, agency staff and the wider public. The firm didn’t carry out a suitable survey for asbestos material before the work started and failed to provide protection for workers on site.”Regulations on dealing safely with asbestos have been in place for many years and are widely known in the industry.”This totally needless incident would not have happened if MJC had carried out proper assessments.”This once again highlights the importance of following the correct procedures and ensuring that an asbestos survey has been carried out to locate any possible asbestos containing materials. After all it is the law.asbestos dust, asbestos exposure, asbestos surveys

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