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Asbestos threat ignored at girls’ school refurb

A contractor has been fined £50,000 for ignoring asbestos safety rules after the potentially deadly material was discovered in a basement area at the independent Woldingham girls' school in Caterham.

Buxton Building Contractors Ltd had commissioned a specialist survey to identify the presence of asbestos in the undercroft part of the building - but then failed to act when the results were positive.

The firm allowed a number of different contractors, including a teenage apprentice, to work in the area until one worker raised the alarm himself when he broke through the ceiling and exposed asbestos insulation boarding.

Buxton Building Contractors Ltd, of Caterham, Surrey, was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £26,217 after admitting a safety breach.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Melvyn Stancliffe said: "This was a serious failing on the part of the company.

"Having correctly commissioned an asbestos survey, it looks as though no one at Buxton Contractors Ltd bothered to read it. Or if they did, they disregarded its contents and failed to act to protect site workers from exposure to what is one of the deadly killers in the construction industry.

"As a result, several people, including the young apprentice, were unnecessarily exposed to the risk of inhaling asbestos fibres.  One can only wish and hope that there are no serious consequences for these workers in the future."

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