Monday 11 October 2010

Asbestos action

We've been asked advice by a very small building firm who undertook some shop refurbishment. On looking at ceiling tiles, the builder asked the shop owner if they contained asbestos and was assured that he'd had a survey carried out and this was negative.
A member of the public reported to the HSE that material which looked like asbestos was in skip in the street. Examination showed this to be crysotile and amosite (white and brown asbestos.)
What the builder should have done was:
  1. Demand to see a copy of the asbestos survey report and/or
  2. Take samples and have them analysed
before starting any work which would disturb the tiles. Any work involving removing the tiles would have to have been done by a licenced asbestos remover, using appropriate techniques.

Beware the CE Mark, yet again

We've just been asked our advice about an accident that occurred on a machine in Germany. This machine was purchased with a CE mark from outside the EU. The accident caused the loss of several fingers, and there is now an urgument between the purchaser and manufacturer as to who was to blame.
Remember that the "CE marking" process is one of self certification for most types of machinery, and there are obligations on the purchaser to ensure that the manufacturer had followed a rigorous process in ensuring that the machine complied with appropriate harmonised European standards and essential health and safety requirements. In such cases, it is advisable to ask for a copy of the technical file (that whoever applied the CE mark must be able to compile.).
There are also obligations under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) (or the German equivalent in this case) on the user of the equipment, who is normally the company that owns the equipment and employs people to use it.
It is highly unlikely that the HSE will pursue an action against a company in another country, let alone outside the EU.
See more about CE Marking.