Asbestos danger probe is launched

Pennine Scaffolding
Pennine Scaffolding

A firm is being investigated by Wigan Council over allegations that it left rubble from a fire containing asbestos piled up in a corner of its yard.

The local authority has confirmed it is looking into safety concerns involving Pennine Scaffolding, based on the Millingford Industrial Estate in Golborne.

Allegations have been made on behalf of a former employee at the firm, saying bosses at the company did not dispose of the potentially-hazardous dust properly following a blaze in 2013.

The environmental health team at Wigan Council is now looking into whether there is any asbestos on site and to ensure any waste is properly removed.

Paul Barton, Wigan Council’s assistant director for environmental services said: “Following a site visit to Pennine Scaffolding, we are now in the process of investigating this issue further and will be working with the land owner to ensure a speedy resolution to this problem”.

The claim, being made on behalf of a Wigan member of staff who left last year, is that waste has been piled up in the yard without any containment measures being put in place for the past three years.

The complainants allege the roof, which collapsed during the fire, contained asbestos in its linings and this is therefore still on site.

They claim workers are being put at risk of breathing in asbestos fibres, especially when the wind blows.

The employee claims he brought up the potential issues with the rubble on several occasions but no action was taken by Pennine Scaffolding’s directors and also alleges he was never given advice to protect himself from asbestos.

He said: “When the fire happened there was a lot of debris kicking about and it was all just left there. I reckon there must be between 30 and 50 tonnes of it in the corner.

“There have been lots of employees working in that yard and as soon as a breeze gets up when it has been dry there’s dust flying about everywhere.

“I’m just concerned about the safety of everybody. It can take up to 20 or 30 years for it to trigger, and I know for a fact I was never given any precautions or health and safety tips for the stuff.”

Concerns have also been raised with the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) but they have both passed the matter back to the town hall as it falls under the council’s duties.

Pennine Scaffolding declined to comment.