Asbestos use prompts rare REACH prosecution

A Yorkshire manufacturing company that used asbestos in its electric generators has been taken to court by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Power Link Machine (UK) Ltd was fined £22,000 with £2,062 in costs by Leeds Magistrates Courtlast week, having admitted to threatening the health and safety of its employees,  contrary to section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. It also pleaded guilty to breaching a prohibition notice ordering it to stop using asbestos, an act contrary to regulation 9 (1) and schedule 6, part 2, section 2 of the REACH Enforcement Regulations 2008.

The company was issued with the notice in Mach 2018, after the HSE’s science division found that the company was using gaskets that contained the toxic mineral.

But a second concern was received in September that year, stating that employees were being asked to work on a generator imported from the firm’s Chinese mother company, Power Link Machine (Shanghai) Co Ltd. Its gaskets also contained asbestos.

Despite the threat they posed, the company allowed an untrained employee to remove them, thus releasing asbestos fibres into the equipment. Two other employees were then asked to work with the generator, exposing them too.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Rachel Brittain said: “When materials that contain asbestos are disturbed or damaged, fibres are released into the air. When these fibres are inhaled, they can cause serious diseases. Had the company put robust checks in place to ensure that they were not importing asbestos containing materials, this incident would not have occurred.”

Power Link was contacted for comment.

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