The Health and Safety Executive has issued a warning to those working in areas where asbestos may be present, saying that proper safety procedures are not always followed.

It comes after Blackpool company Asahi Glass Fluoropolymers was prosecuted for breaching asbestos regulations in the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act.

A court in Fleetwood, Lancashire, heard that workers removing ceiling tiles at the Asahi factory in 2002 during a refurbishment programme were exposed to asbestos over a three-day period. Managers allowed work to continue despite suspecting the tiles contained the substance. The employees were not trained in asbestos work and the ceiling contractor involved did not have an asbestos licence.

Peter Gray, an HSE inspector, said the incident underlined the need for companies to take proper precautions when carrying out work on buildings suspected to contain asbestos.

He said: “Work should be carefully planned and risk-assessed with prior confirmation of asbestos content. It should also be supervised and executed by competent staff.”

He said contingency measures should be in place in case asbestos was encountered.

Asbestos-related diseases are responsible for about 3000 deaths each year in Britain. Half a million structures built between 1950 and 1980 are thought to contain the substance, which is particularly dangerous when disturbed.

Have you seen asbestos rules being flouted?