When a company or individual takes on the role of CDM Coordinator they have a clear and defined role under the regulations. Further to this they must also be highly competent not just in construction but in health and safety practice. In this situation the CDM Coordinator was anything but competent and the workers employed on the project, members of the public and the contractors employed to complete the works – they failed to pass on information which would have put all of these people and the end users of the building at serious risk from asbestos exposure.

Asbestos insulation board (or AIB as it is often referred to) requires a licensed removal contractor due to the high levels of blue and brow asbestos it typically contains. The presence of AIB was clearly identified in the survey but, critically, had not been passed onto others in the construction process – a key duty placed on the CDM Coordinator.

For more information read the HSE press release below;

An architects’ practice has been prosecuted after builders were potentially exposed to dangerous asbestos fibres during construction work at Aberystwyth Rugby Club in Mid Wales.

Aberystwyth Magistrates today (4 February) heard that Dilwyn Roberts Penseiri/Architects Ltd failed to pass on vital information about the presence of asbestos insulation board to builders before they removed soffits from an end wall at the clubhouse in January 2012.

The situation came to light during a routine inspection of the work by a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector, who found remains of damaged asbestos insulation boards on the gable end of the clubhouse. A subsequent HSE investigation found that Dilwyn Roberts Penseiri/Architects Ltd had been appointed to design and oversee the work at the clubhouse and to act as the Construction, Design and Management Co-ordinator for the project.

Although an asbestos survey was commissioned by the rugby club and sent to the architects, this was never shown to the building contractors even though it clearly identified the presence of asbestos insulation board.

When the work was tendered in August 2011, the practice prepared the pre-construction information and advised that an asbestos survey had identified asbestos cement in the soffits, but failed to mention the asbestos insulating board. Unlike asbestos cement products, asbestos insulation board requires removal by licenced companies under strictly controlled conditions. In January 2012, the building contractor removed the soffits on the end wall but had not recognised the material as asbestos boards.

Dilwyn Roberts Penseiri/Architects Ltd of High Street, Newtown, Powys, pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 3(1) of The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £5,400 and ordered to pay £2,917 in costs.

HSE Inspector Phil Nicolle, speaking after the hearing, said:

“Construction Design and Management Co-ordinators are required to identify and collect pre-construction information for projects. It should contain all information relevant to the health and safety of people engaged in, affected by the work or using the building as a future workplace.

“Dilwyn Roberts Penseiri/Architects Ltd failed to pass on vital survey information, which they were aware of, resulting in a construction worker being exposed to asbestos fibres.

“Asbestos-related diseases kill more people than any other single work-related cause. The danger arises when asbestos fibres become airborne. They form a very fine dust. Breathing asbestos dust can cause serious damage to the lungs and cause cancer.”