HBE Asbestos SurveyA well known retail chain has been fined £5,300 for an Asbestos breach at one of their Scottish branches. Following an investigation by Midlothian Council’s Environmental Health officers, the chain was fined for exposing employees to asbestos risk at their Dalkeith store.

At the Edinburgh Sheriff Court, the firm pleaded guilty to a failure to prevent exposure of their employees to asbestos, contrary to Regulation 10(1)(a) of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 and Section 33(1)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974.

The court heard that in January 2010, a faulty light fitting was believed to be creating smoke in the store, so the store manager at the time smashed a ceiling tile to gain access to the area, in order to investigate the source of the smoke. An electrician was subsequently brought in to fix the issue with the light.

The Council inspected the premises in 2011 and it was noted that almost a quarter of the ceiling tile remained in place, with debris from the broken tile on the floor. Analysis of the ceiling tile confirmed that it contained asbestos.

An investigation by Midlothian Council found that the company’s asbestos management plan was insufficient and served an improvement notice, which required the deficiencies in the plan to be remedied. The firm arranged for an environmental clean-up of the store and commissioned a specialist company to undertake an updated asbestos survey.

This prosecution shows that even large multiple retailers can get it wrong when it comes to managing their Asbestos responsibilities. It is clear that the health & safety policies put in place by this retailer were insufficient and essentially put their employees at risk.

Source: Midlothian Council