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A Wokingham business has been fined £28,000 and ordered to pay £22,631 in costs for failing to alert two subcontractors of the presence of asbestos in the workplace.

Gardener Mechanical Services Ltd had been contracted to carry out a mechanical upgrade in a room at Reading University. They subcontracted out the work to a Newbury based company who then subcontracted two self employed males to carry out the work.

The two males carried out the upgrade in September 2009 which involved them drilling through an asbestos ceiling coating in one of the rooms in Reading University.

The males were unaware of any asbestos in the room and believed that all asbestos material had been removed safely by asbestos specialists before the commencement of their work.

Further investigations by the Health & Safety Executive found that contractor Gardner Mechanical Services were aware of the asbestos materials in the room where the work was being carried out. However, Gardner Mechanical Services failed in their duty to provide this information to the sub-contractors prior to the commencement of the job.

At Reading Magistrates court on 8th October 2012, Gardner Mechanical Services pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11 (1) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and Regulation 23 (1) (a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

After the hearing Health & Safety Inspector Adam Wycherley stated: “Gardner Mechanical Services had a clear duty of care to relay important information to its subcontractors in a reliable manner in order to prevent their thelop, but this simply did not happen. As a result of poor planning on the part of GMS, two men were exposed to high levels of asbestos fibres, leaving them at risk of contracting serious diseases such as lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis of the lungs.”  

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