Court fines firm £33k after it failed to follow advice of an asbestos survey at an MoD base

Interserve has been fined £33,000 after a court heard it had potentially exposed Ministry of Defence workers to deadly asbestos fibres.

Its subsidiary Interserve (Defence) Ltd, of Waterloo Road, London, appeared at Oxford Crown Court on 8 September following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive.

An asbestos survey undertaken in the boiler room at an MoD base in Arncott, Bicester, in early 2005, found that the whole room was considered to be contaminated with asbestos and recommended that access to the room should be restricted until it was removed.

Interserve failed to follow the advice of the survey and consequently workers were left at risk of exposure to deadly asbestos fibres for over a year.

The company pleaded guilty at a previous hearing, on 11 June at Banbury Magistrates Court, to contravening regulations 4(8)(c), 6(1)(a) and 10(1)(a) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2002.

The offences were committed at the Oxfordshire MOD site between 23 May 2005 and 30 September 2006.

On top of the fine it was ordered to pay costs of £17,936.

HSE inspector for Oxfordshire, Matthew Lee, said:

“Around 4,000 people die each year from past exposure to asbestos and the material may be present in any building built before the year 2000.

“It is therefore essential that duty holders and facilities managers are aware of the risk it still poses and their responsibilities in managing it.

“Facilities managers are key to ensuring that effective management systems are in place to protect workers and to ensure that duty holders meet their legal responsibilities.”