GMB has sought answers from Hounslow Council, after it learned that three of its members were exposed to asbestos while carrying out repair works in a residential property.
The workers were employed as heating engineers by Lampton Facilities Maintenance 360 (FM360), a subsidiary of Hounslow Council, on 25 August when they sawed through a panel believed to contain asbestos.
Keith Williams, GMB senior organiser, told Safety Management: “They were not made aware of asbestos and were under the assumption that a check had been carried out and therefore it came as a surprise to them when they sawed through the panel that contained asbestos. It’s a serious concern for the employees.”
The employees’ van and uniforms had to be cleansed thoroughly, because of the asbestos on the equipment, he said.
“Serious questions need to be asked why FM360 did not carry out the relevant checks and surveys as legally required under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 in order to assess the risks and management of asbestos before the employees concerned were asked to undertake the work.”
In a letter to GMB, the council responded: “I’d like to reassure you that work on heating installation systems have, where required, an asbestos survey in place – we operate to our asbestos management plan and we have a programme of asbestos surveys where required.”
There was no response in regards to the workers’ exposure to asbestos, other than to say the council take their responsibilities seriously, he said.
Williams says: “Given the historical use of asbestos in heating installations, and the inevitable high risk of it still been in existence, it is all the more reason to ensure that transparent surveys are conducted.
“For transparency we need to know how asbestos surveys are carried out – and under what circumstances would a survey not be required prior to work commencing?”
GMB says that unless the council can confirm it carries out asbestos surveys in accordance with the procedures and regulations, GMB will raise the matter with HSE.
FM360 Ltd was established by Hounslow Council in October 2016 to deliver housing maintenance and major works services.
According to its business delivery plan: “a number of policies and procedures relating to…asbestos have been recently reviewed and are in place”.
Safety Management contacted Hounslow Council for a response but it has not yet provided a comment.
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