Live updates

Burglars warned of asbestos

Police in Southampton are warning burglars not to open up some equipment they stole from a break-in at a building site in Southampton because it contains hazardous asbestos. More than £11,000 worth of equipment was taken from the site at Somborne House in Weston Lane last week.

The site is being prepared for demolition and a specialist company are removing asbestos. Among the items taken were two negative pressure units which are used to collect asbestos dust and particles. If they are opened by the burglars they will be contaminated by the potentially deadly substance.

They should also seek medical advice as exposure to even a tiny amount of asbestos dust can cause serious illness in the long term. Police would also like to hear from anyone who thinks they may have been offered any of the equipment for sale or has any information about the crime.


Business fined after workers exposed to asbestos

A Wokingham business has been fined for safety failings after two subcontractors were unwittingly exposed to asbestos fibres at Reading University.

Gardner Mechanical Services Ltd had been contracted to undertake a mechanical services upgrade **in a room at the university. They subcontracted the project to a Newbury-based company, who in turn subcontracted two self-employed men, Andrew Lloyd and Steve Taylor, to do the work.

Reading Magistrates court heard the two men drilled through a sprayed asbestos ceiling coating. They had not been made aware that asbestos was in the room and thought all asbestos material had been removed by specialist contractors prior to their work starting.

Gardner Mechanical Services Ltd, of Grovelands Avenue Workshops, Winnersh, Wokingham, pleaded guilty and was fined a total of £28,000 and ordered to pay £22,631 in costs.

After the hearing HSE inspector Adam Wycherley said: “Gardner Mechanical Services had a clear duty of care to relay important information to its subcontractors in order to prevent their exposure to asbestos, but this simply did not happen.

“As a result of poor planning on the part of GMS, two men were exposed to high levels of asbestos fibres, leaving them at risk of contracting serious diseases such as lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis of the lungs.”