Week Commencing 21/08/2023 – In The News

Don’t get asbestos complacent, warns expert

Reduction in deaths from mesothelioma reported in latest HSE figures – no cause for complacency says Tim Turney from environmental monitoring company, Casella.

The latest figures published by the HSE on deaths from Mesothelioma, a cancer caused by past exposure to asbestos, show that 2,265 people died from the disease in 2021.  This is a fall of 302 compared with 2,570 deaths in 2020 and a considerable reduction on the average of 2,520 deaths per year recorded between 2012-2019.

Asbestos-related diseases take decades to develop. Most people with them today will largely have been exposed before the tightening of controls and the use of asbestos was banned in 1999.  The current regulations state that where asbestos is present in buildings it must be managed, maintained in a good condition, and stay undisturbed. If this level of protection cannot be achieved, then asbestos must be removed.

These regulations have led to a significant reduction in exposure and the number of people developing asbestos-related illnesses is predicted to fall as we get further from the 1999 asbestos ban.  Prior to that point, asbestos was used extensively in construction.

Read more on the HSM website.

Six companies charged with fire safety offences for blaze which destroyed Cheshire retirement village

In a highly complex case, six companies have been charged with offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 following a fire which destroyed a retirement village in 2019, as Ron Alalouff reports.

More than 150 residents lost their homes and possessions in the August 2019 fire at Beechmere retirement village in Crewe, one of the biggest ever incidents attended by Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service.

As a result of what it describes as a “long and complex” investigation, the fire service has charged six companies with various offences under the legislation. The companies being prosecuted are:

  • Advantage (Cheshire) Ltd: Contracted to procure the design, build and finance of Beechmere and the operation of the village (Advantage is a subsidiary of Your Housing Ltd)
  • Your Housing Ltd: Employed staff at the retirement village and as such, was the responsible person for fire safety measures, as defined by Article 3(a) of the Fire Safety Order 2005
  • Morgan Sindall Property Services Ltd: The facilities management subcontractor to Advantage, with responsibility for responsive repairs and cyclical maintenance
  • WSP UK Ltd: Contracted to produce a detailed fire strategy in 2007, and in 2008 produce an operational fire safety manual and carry out a fire risk assessment of Beechmere.
  • Total Fire Group Ltd: Contracted to carry out fire risk assessments in August 2017 and August 2018 at both Beechmere and Hazelmere retirement villages
  • MAC Roofing and Contractors Ltd: Contracted by Morgan Sindall Property Services to undertake roofing works at Beechmere between 6 and 8 August 2019

For more on the case, visit the SHP website.

Charity donation after river contamination

Construction company Costain Limited will donate £55,000 to Tyne Rivers Trust after polluting the River Don during a major upgrade to the A19 in South Tyneside.

An investigation by the Environment Agency found that the company had breached its environmental permit when contaminated water was washed down highway drains and into the River Don.

It submitted an Enforcement Undertaking to the Environment Agency, which has now been accepted.

An Enforcement Undertaking is a voluntary offer made by companies and individuals to make amends for their offending, and usually includes a donation to a wildlife charity to carry out environmental improvements in the local area.

Costain Limited had an environmental permit which allowed it to discharge water treated by a sediment treatment facility into the River Don during work to the A19 at Testos roundabout.

Visit the HSM website to learn more.

Sites benefit from real-time asbestos monitoring

A real-time airborne asbestos monitor and alarm is already being successfully deployed on sites around the UK and Ireland.

The award-winning ALERT PRO range offers patented technology which is changing the landscape of asbestos risk exposure, the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK.

According to the HSE, more than 5,000 people in the UK die of asbestos-related diseases every year. Data from NORAC & ATAC shows that many thousands of tonnes of asbestos can still be found in up to 78% of all buildings constructed or refurbished prior to 2000. This presence can be within, but not limited to, pipe or plant lagging, insulation, fireproof panelling, cement roofing materials or sprayed coatings.

The Alert PRO 2000 connected model won the prestigious 2023 BSIF Product Innovation Award and represents the biggest step forward in asbestos safety management technology for decades. It speciates between asbestos and non-asbestos fibres using patented light scattering technology and uses the paramagnetic properties of asbestos to deliver results with a 99% confidence level.

Learn more about the technology on the HSM website.

To keep up to date with the latest health & safety news and advice, follow us on social media:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | LinkedIn