Builders merchant Jewson fined £400k over asbestos lapses

National builder’s merchant Jewson have been ordered to pay £400,000 for failing to protect staff and visitors from asbestos.

Concerns were raised over the Middlesborough branch of Jewson in 2019, leading to Environmental Health officers visiting the merchant.

A number of damaged asbestos-containing materials were found at the site in Brewsdale Road where fibres had been released. Teeside Crown Court also heard that between 2004 and 2019 several surveys had been carried out, but there was a significant failure to properly inspect and manage asbestos at the premises.

Stark Building Materials, which owns Jewson, apologised “to all concerned”.

Health risks associated with asbestos mean employers are required by law to carry out surveys which identify, label, remove or manage the product.

Judith Hedgley, Middlesbrough Council’s head of public protection, said: “If asbestos-containing materials become damaged they can release tiny fibres, which if breathed in or swallowed can lead to serious and potentially fatal illnesses, which can take years to develop.”

Stark Building pleaded guilty on Jewson’s behalf to a charge of failing to protect the health and safety of employees at the premises, members of the public and contract workers by failing to effectively manage asbestos.

It was also ordered to pay £9,664 towards the council’s costs.

Stark Building said a new system for managing asbestos in the workplace – involving a comprehensive digital tracking and monitoring process – had been put in place following the events four years ago.

A spokesperson for the company said: “We accept the ruling of the court and the fine received and apologise again to all concerned.

“Earlier this year, we conducted a further review of our processes and procedures across our estate – and are confident that the solutions put in place are now as robust as they should be.”

Middlesbrough Council said anyone who had worked at the site or visited it and was concerned about asbestos could contact officers for advice.

 

Judith Hedgley, Middlesbrough Council’s head of public protection, said:

“If asbestos-containing materials become damaged they can release tiny fibres, which if breathed in or swallowed can lead to serious and potentially fatal illnesses, which can take years to develop.”

“The management of the Jewson site in Middlesbrough had, over a prolonged period, failed in their responsibility to protect their workers and visitors from the risks associated with exposure to asbestos,” she added.

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