A wood processing company in Cheshire where four people died in an explosion has been fined after unsafe asbestos work was carried out at its premises.
The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted Wood Treatment Ltd, in Bosley near Macclesfield, after work was carried out to fit new explosion relief panels to an asbestos cement-clad warehouse following the deadly blast.
During an inspection by two HSE inspectors to assess progress, it was noticed that asbestos cement panels of the warehouse had been removed, cut to shape with power tools and replaced, breaching regulations.
The HSE investigation into the incident found that while an external company had been contracted to fit the explosion relief panels, they did not work with asbestos containing materials, instead employees of Wood Treatment Limited removed the cladding.
Following installation of the panels, some remedial work was necessary to repair holes left in the wall. The old asbestos sheets were cut to size and refitted.
Although the company was fully aware of the presence of asbestos and had an Asbestos Survey and Action Plan, this information was not shared with employees and measures were not put in place to contain the risks involved.
Wood Treatment Ltd of Tunstall Road, Bosley pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,000 and a victim surcharge of £170.
Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Ian Betley said: "Asbestos is responsible for thousands of deaths in the UK every year but it only becomes dangerous when it is broken up and fibres are released into the air.
"Asbestos should only be removed by specialist contractors Wood Treatment Ltd put workers at risk by not following the correct safety procedures."
Derek Moore, 62, Dorothy Bailey, 62, William Barks, 51, and Jason Shingler, 38 were killed in the blast at the mill in July 2015.