A Leeds trader has been given a suspended jail sentence after exposing a household and workers to potentially dangerous levels of asbestos fibres at a home in Bramhope.
Clive Raper, 49, trading as Bramley Asbestos Removals, took on a job to remove asbestos insulating board from the garage of a couple’s home despite the fact that he did not hold the legal licence required to carry out the specialist work.
He hired a couple of workers to help him but totally failed to take any of the vital safety measures needed, or implement the tight controls imposed by law, to protect workers, local people and the environment when working with the material.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Mr Raper for safety breaches at Leeds Magistrates’ Court (20 March) after investigating the incident in July 2011.
The court was told Mr Raper accepted the job from the couple knowing full well he did not have the necessary licence to do the work. He then took on a couple of labourers to help him, neither of whom held licences.
Asbestos is a known carcinogen, and asbestos-containing materials will release fibres into the air when damaged or disturbed. If inhaled, they can lead to serious and fatal disease, often years down the line.
Mr Raper had not used any of the standard control measures that licensed operators employ, such as a protective enclosure, full-face respiratory equipment, negative pressure units and specialist vacuums.
The poor standards employed by Mr Raper meant that asbestos debris and residue was left, compounding the risk to the homeowners of exposure.
The homeowner was so concerned with how Mr Raper had left the garage he contacted Leeds City Council. They identified a suitable contractor who went to the home and carried out an environmental clean of the property, at added cost to the homeowner. The council also reported the matter to HSE
Clive Raper, trading as Bramley Asbestos Removals, of Fawcett Gardens, Leeds (previously Summerfield Drive, Bramley), was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay a contribution of £260 toward costs after admitting a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and a separate breach of the Control of Asbestos Regulations.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Paul Yeadon said:
“It is appalling that a trader who is fully familiar with the restrictions governing asbestos wilfully ignores them and puts a household and the workers he has hired in danger. It would appear that he has put profit ahead of the health and wellbeing of others, and in this case quite bafflingly, he put his own health at risk as well.
“We were unable to identify the two workers involved as Mr Raper could not provide their full names or contact details. We do think, however, that they were probably both exposed to asbestos fibres above the action level.
“This kind of work must be carried out by competent people with the necessary licence to do so.”