Contractor failed to carry out asbestos risk survey in Dublin building

Counsel for McAleer & Rushe UK Ltd says significant element of human error in case

A building contractor is to be sentenced next month in relation to failing to carry out an asbestos risk assessment during work on part of a Dublin city office building, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court has heard.

A building contractor is to be sentenced next month in relation to failing to carry out an asbestos risk assessment during work on part of a Dublin city office building, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court has heard.

 

A building contractor is to be sentenced next month in relation to failing to carry out an asbestos risk assessment during work on part of a Dublin city office building.

The breach occurred at Findlater House, Cathal Brugha Street, on June 23rd, 2016 while McAleer & Rushe UK Ltd was carrying out refurbishment work for its conversion into a hotel.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard two asbestos surveys were carried out on the site the previous year but the area involved was not included as work was not expected to be carried out there at the time.

Asbestos was previously located elsewhere in the building and was compliantly removed by a specialist company using full body suits, respirator masks, extraction fans and filters.

A Health and Safety Authority inspector said asbestos was a known carcinogen that was widely used in construction until a phased ban in Ireland between 1986 and 2000. Airborne dust particles may be inhaled into the lungs when the asbestos deteriorates or is broken.

Declan McLogan, a director, pleaded guilty on behalf of the company to undertaking work at Findlater House which would be liable to expose employees to dust from asbestos or materials containing asbestos in circumstances where there was a failure to carry out a risk assessment.

McAleer & Rushe UK Ltd, of George Street, London, has no previous convictions.

Human error

Defence counsel, Ronan Kennedy SC, said this was a once off incident that was out of character for the company, which prides itself on its exemplary health and safety record. He submitted there had been a significant element of human error.

Frank Kearns, an inspector with the Health and Safety Authority, told Dara Hayes BL, prosecuting, that McAleer & Rushe was the lead company in the refurbishment and had a subcontractor on site engaged in demolition and stripping work.

On the day in question, two employees of the subcontractor were tasked to remove ceiling boards in the courtyard and basement ramp areas which were not been covered by the asbestos surveys.

During the works one of the men discovered a sticker on a tile with an asbestos warning. Analysis of the material was carried out and confirmed to be amosite or brown asbestos.

Mr Kearns agreed with Mr Kennedy that the area was not part of the original conversion works and that the rest of the site had been properly surveyed and any asbestos dealt with in compliance with regulations. He agreed that the site was otherwise wholly compliant with health and safety regulations.

Judge Melanie Greally adjourned the case for finalisation on March 9th.