Fine handed down to Eddie Stobart in relation to builders’ exposure to asbestos

One of the biggest names in haulage, Eddie Stobart Ltd, has been hit with a £133,000 fine, after builders at one of its sites came into contact with asbestos during work there.

Fine handed down to Eddie Stobart in relation to builders’ exposure to asbestos 1

Photo Credit by DPP Law

The business was found guilty of a number of asbestos failings, which occurred while excavation work was undertaken at its Widnes rail and container freight port.

The building work caused asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) to be disturbed, meaning the health of staff was put at risk.

What was discovered by the court and HSE investigators?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an investigation of what happened at the site, and found that an asbestos survey had not been performed there. Furthermore, no training had been provided to the workers involved in how to deal with asbestos, and Eddie Stobart had not reported the incident correctly.

Manchester Magistrates’ Court was told that in early 2018, an area of the transport giant’s Mersey Multimodal Gateway in Widnes had been reserved for the storage of empty containers.

Given that heavy lift loaders used to move containers had caused damage to the ground, the decision was made to scrape away the top layer to uncover an older, more level surface underneath it.

The work was carried out over several months – after which, the remnants of old buildings containing asbestos were present in the material on the surface. Underground basement cavities were also discovered and excavated, prior to backfilling with rubble. Several workers drew attention to the dust that these processes generated, and raised concern about what it potentially contained.

Not only did the HSE learn that there had been no asbestos surveying undertaken before the start of work to determine whether asbestos was present in any of the excavated material, but a risk assessment had also not been carried out. There had also been a failure to implement suitable control measures to prevent or minimise any asbestos exposure or prevent ACMs spreading from the site.

Only several months after the completion of this work was testing undertaken, with the subsequent survey discovering that there were ACMs in the mounds of spoil, as well as scattered around the footprint where the work had been carried out.

The company also failed to report the incident in accordance with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) within the required 10-day window.

A hefty fine for a series of asbestos breaches

The aforementioned failings culminated in Eddie Stobart Ltd of Warrington, Cheshire, admitting its guilt to violating asbestos regulations, and receiving a fine of £133,000. The company was also ordered to pay costs amounting to £9,260.

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