December 7, 2022

Eddie Stobart fined after workers exposed to asbestos

The company has been fined £133,000 over a series of breakdowns during excavation work at its rail freight and container port in Widnes.

Materials containing asbestos (MCA) were disturbed by the work, endangering personnel.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that no asbestos investigation had been carried out, the workers involved had received no asbestos training and that Eddie Stobart had not not report the incident correctly.

Eddie Stobart Truck

Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard that at the start of 2018 an area of ​​the company’s Mersey multimodal gateway at Widnes was set aside for the storage of empty containers.

As the ground had been damaged by the heavy loaders used to move the containers, it was decided to scrape the top layer to achieve an older, flatter surface below.

This work was spread over several months and thereafter remnants of old buildings containing asbestos were present in the surface material. Underground cavities in the basement were also found and excavated and then backfilled with rubble.

Several workers have complained about the dust created by these processes and what it may contain.

An HSE investigation found that no asbestos survey had been carried out before work began to determine if any of the excavated material contained asbestos.

A risk assessment had not been carried out and no appropriate control measures had been put in place to prevent or reduce asbestos exposure or prevent the spread of asbestos-containing materials from the site. The workers involved in the excavation work had not received any training on asbestos.

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It was several months after the work was completed that tests were carried out and the ensuing investigation identified ACMs in the mounds of spoil, as well as scattered around the footprint where the work had taken place.

The company then failed to report the incident under the Reporting of Injuries, Illnesses and Hazardous Occurrences Regulations, 2013 (RIDDOR) within the required 10-day period.

Eddie Stobart Ltd, of Stretton Green Distribution Park, Langford Way, Appleton, Warrington, Cheshire pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 of the Asbestos Control Regulations 2012 and Regulation 11(1) of the 2012 Regulations on asbestos control.

In addition to the fine, the company was also ordered to pay costs of £9,260 on November 4.

Following the hearing, HSE Inspector Stuart Wood said: “Asbestos has historically been used in countless applications and can be found in a variety of places.

“Companies undertaking demolition, maintenance, or other work that exposes or is likely to expose employees to asbestos are required by law to assume that ACMs are present unless you have evidence, such as an asbestos survey to indicate otherwise.

“The obligation to manage asbestos concerns entire premises, including courtyard areas, and not just buildings.

“There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.”