Great Yarmouth-based Omni-Pac (U.K.) Ltd. pleaded guilty at a Nov. 7 hearing to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company Feb. 1 was fined £25,000 for each breach.
An investigation by the U.K. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that air samples showed a high level of asbestos at an Omni-Pac site. The primary source of contamination was from damaged and poorly maintained asbestos insulation on top of dryers used to produce finished papier-mâché egg cartons, according to the agency.
"Omni-Pac failed to maintain the asbestos-containing materials throughout the site, particularly in those areas at high level that were not readily visible," said HSE investigating inspector Paul Carter. "The company failed to adhere to its own procedures and, consequently, people could have been exposed asbestos over a long period of time."
Asbestos-related diseases and illnesses are the No. 1 cause of work-related deaths in Great Britain, causing around 3,500 deaths each year, according to HSE.
"Breathing in asbestos fibers can lead to serious diseases, including cancer," Carter said. "This case demonstrates that HSE takes the failure to properly manage the risks from asbestos extremely seriously. Businesses need to ensure that they are complying with the law."
Omni-Pac pleaded guilty to violating the following sections of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974:
- Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states that "It shall be the duty of every employee to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees."
- Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states: "It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health and safety."
Exchange rates are as of Feb. 2.