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Cheshire fertiliser firm sentenced over asbestos exposure

08-10-2013

Photo shows the industrial furnace where workers were exposed to asbestos fibres

A fertiliser manufacturer has been sentenced after around 50 workers were exposed to potentially-deadly asbestos fibres at its plant at Ince Marshes near Ellesmere Port.

GrowHow UK Ltd. was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after asbestos was discovered during the refurbishment of a 50-metre-high industrial furnace - known as the Primary Reformer - on 31 January 2011.

Chester Crown Court heard that contractors had been demolishing brickwork and insulation boards for two days, using hammers, chisels and crow bars, before a bricklayer raised concerns that asbestos may be present. This was confirmed when material from the site was taken for analysis.

The HSE investigation found GrowHow had failed to carry out an appropriate asbestos survey before allowing the project to start, despite the fact that the demolition work was likely to create large amounts of dust.

Workers had been breaking up rubble, putting it into sacks and pouring it down a chute so the sacks could be reused, without knowing the dust they were creating may have contained asbestos fibres.

Once asbestos was discovered, the workers were ordered to leave the site and all of their protective clothing and equipment was bagged up and destroyed due to the risk of contamination.

GrowHow UK Ltd. was fined £60,000 and ordered to pay £17,094 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to one breach of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 on 4 October 2013.

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