GMB Calls On Employers And Local Authorities To Ensure That Asbestos Is Handled Safely At Recycling Sites After Dangerous Exposure At Kingston Site
Local authorities need to be aware that they cannot contract out their legal responsibility for health & safety when they contract out services says GMB.
GMB today called for employers and local authorities to take full responsibility for ensuring that workers and the public are not inadvertently exposed to deadly asbestos fibres.
GMB organiser, Paul Grafton when visiting the EWC household refuse & recycling site at Villiers Road Kingston upon Thames, to speak to his members about possible bankruptcy and employment transfer was appalled to discover that asbestos was not isolated from the public and not being managed properly by the duty holder.
In addition proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was not being issued or used on site.
He correctly insisted that the site be closed with immediate effect and contacted the local council with a view to them taking remedial, safe action along with the contractor on site.
Paul Grafton, GMB Organiser, said – “I was shocked and appalled by the manner in which the disposal of asbestos debris was being managed. This has allegedly been made worse by some managers breaking up cement roofing sheets with a hammer, making potential exposure for both workers and the public even more serious”.
I contacted the local authority who sent a representative to the site but he appeared to take a very hands off approach as though it was not the council’s responsibility.
GMB are calling on both the contractor, EWC and the local council, Kingston upon Thames to take their legal responsibility seriously and report this to the HSE under the RIDDOR regulations.
Local authorities need to be aware that they cannot contract out their legal responsibility for health & safety when they contract out services, and GMB is looking for the HSE to use this serious negligence to issue a reminder to both contractors and local councils to ensure that asbestos is disposed of properly.”
Contact: Paul Grafton, GMB Organiser on 07714 239092 or Mick Simpkin GMB Organiser on 07973 522984 or GMB Press Office 07974 251823 or 07921 289880.
Notes to editors
1 Mesothelioma deaths in the UK are currently over 2,300 per year and Lord Freud, DWP minister has said recently that government estimated deaths from mesothelioma, caused by exposure to asbestos will reach 28,500 between July 2012 and March 2024.
2 The Control of Asbestos Regulations (2012) are very clear on how asbestos should be handled and managed and any exposure should be as low as possible, and involve proper training and PPE.
3 Under the Health & Safety at Work Act (1974) it is clear that a local authority cannot contract out its’ health & safety responsibilities when they contract out services.
4 Asbestos can only be disposed of at sites which are designated as Hazardous waste sites.
5 GMB has an asbestos register for members who might be exposed to asbestos while at work. Contact your GMB regional office for more details