Asbestos claims are refuted by landlord

Date published: 04 November 2011

FIRST Choice Homes Oldham has strongly refuted claims of substandard working practices handling asbestos in and around homes in Oldham.

The Chronicle put a list of allegations to the housing association (FCHO), which denied any wrongdoing and insisted the claims were made by a disgruntled former employee.

The experienced asbestos worker claims that errors in repair works have seen tenants exposed to potentially deadly asbestos and alleges:

Maintenance work, in particular electrical procedures, have been wrongly carried out on asbestos insulating boards.

There is no recording of potential asbestos problems in common areas such as walkways, stairwells and bin areas.

There is a lack of vital six-month and annual check-ups.

There is a worrying lack of a database to inform workers and tenants of problems and potential dangers in properties to avoid exposure to asbestos.

However, FCHO says the safety of tenants, employees and contractors is of utmost priority.

A spokesperson said: “All work undertaken by FCHO and our contractors is fully compliant with our agreed policy and with asbestos management regulations.

“All operatives are given asbestos information before working in a property containing asbestos and are kept up to date on asbestos awareness training and safe working practices.”

FCHO added that a tenants’ handbook was sent to every tenant in June this year that contained detailed information outlining the nature of the material, what tenants should do if they think they have found it in their home, the association’s responsibilities and protocols for its removal.

The worker claims there are potential problems all over the borough as there is asbestos boarding fitted in homes on several estates including Egerton Street, Coldhurst, Sholver, Higginshaw Village and the Eldon Street estate.

The Chronicle has also seen evidence of reports that detail a dangerous occurrence in which broken asbestos board was left in a bathroom for two days following pipe repair works.

The worker said: “Oldham is 10 years behind other authorities in the handling of the asbestos issue. The systems in place are archaic.

“Tenants will move in to a home and start scraping the wallpaper off and sanding down pipe covers oblivious to the dangers and this is not right.

“Extractor fans are being installed where work should not be carried out.”

The Health and Safety Executive stages regular meetings with FCHO, which took charge of Oldham’s 12,000 council homes this year.

FCHO, which reminded residents that asbestos is safe unless it is disturbed, has also put aside what it described as “substantial budgets” to manage safe asbestos removal prior to improvement work across its housing stock.

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