Asbestos removal supervisor fined for exposing workers to deadly fibres

Asbestos removal supervisor fined for exposing workers to deadly fibres

19 December 2016

An asbestos removal supervisor has been sentenced after admitting exposing numerous workers to deadly asbestos fibres during licensed asbestos removal works.

Manchester Magistrates Court heard that a concern was received by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) claiming that Alan Burdett was allowing people into the sealed asbestos enclosure, which is designed to keep dangerous fibres from escaping and contaminating people or other areas, without any form or protective clothing or face mask.

Alan Burdett was a supervisor for Asbestos Decontamination Services Limited of Erdington, Birmingham and was engaged in large scale asbestos ceiling removal at the vacant Raleigh House, Discovery Park, and Stockport, where he was in control of a group of removal operatives on a day-to-day basis.

HSE’s investigation found that significant amount of metal framework which had supported the asbestos ceiling boards was stacked in the open building without being wrapped or sealed to prevent the spread of asbestos fibres. Alan Burdett had been filmed allowing workers to enter the asbestos enclosure without any face masks or protective clothing to prevent them being exposed to asbestos, as well as potentially releasing the deadly fibres into the main building where there were no controls to prevent exposure.

Alan Burdett of Mason Road, Erdington, pleaded guilty at Manchester Magistrates Court to breaching Section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment which was suspended for 18 months, fined £1,500.00 and was ordered to pay costs of £3,518.13

HSE inspector Matt Greenly said after the case: “Alan Burdett totally failed in his duty to protect himself and his workers from a foreseeable risk of serious harm from asbestos fibres.

“Although he was qualified and experienced he chose to completely ignore the risks from asbestos and in doing so has exposed several people to a risk of developing an deadly disease at some point in the future. As an asbestos supervisor he was in a trusted position and he has abused this trust.

January 5, 2017Permalink

Essex companies fined after workers exposed to asbestos

Two Essex-based companies have been fined after exposing workers to potentially deadly asbestos over a period of years, despite being alerted to the risks at their premises.

Basildon Crown Court heard that asbestos was found in poor condition when Connect Packaging Ltd moved into industrial units in Manor Road Trading Estate, Benfleet in 2007, but that it failed to act to control risk. As a result, its employees were exposed to risk from airborne asbestos fibres.

When Connect Packaging Ltd moved out of the units in January 2009, it sublet them to Creo Retail Marketing Ltd, another company within its group, but continued to exercise some control over maintenance and repair work at the premises.

In 2014, Creo Retail Marketing Ltd undertook its own asbestos survey following the appointment of a new health and safety officer. This confirmed continuing risk of exposure to airborne asbestos fibres from sources including poorly-enscapsulated blue asbestos (crocidolite).

Despite this, workers remained exposed to these risks while the companies debated their responsibility for its removal and failed to act effectively to prevent exposure.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation and its scientists found asbestos fibres at locations including the workers’ clocking-in point, on rafters above work areas, and within a stationery cupboard.

When asbestos fibres become airborne, they can be inhaled, and these tiny fibres are known to cause respiratory diseases and cancers which can be fatal. The court heard that workers at both companies were exposed to risk over an extended period of time.

Connect Packaging Ltd, registered at 91 Soho Hill, Birmingham was fined £65,000 and ordered to pay £8,150.23 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of Section 4 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Creo Retail Marketing Ltd, registered at 350 Euston Road, London, was fined £150,000 and ordered to pay £8,149.63 in costs after pleading guilty to breaches of Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Nikki Hughes said:

“Connect Packaging Ltd is now under new ownership but while it held the tenants- repairing-lease on the rented units it had a legal duty to manage asbestos within these non-domestic premises, as did its sub-tenant, Creo Retail Marketing Ltd.

“After this asbestos was identified, both companies should have acted promptly and effectively to control the potentially lethal risk to which their workers were exposed. Asbestos-related disease has a long latency period, so we cannot predict the consequences this failure to manage asbestos may have on their workers’ health.

“This prosecution should act as a reminder to all persons in control of the repair and maintenance of non-domestic premises of the need to ensure that the correct control measures are put in place to prevent exposure to asbestos, so far as is reasonably practicable.”

January 5, 2017Permalink

Devon lady dies from historical asbestos exposure

A woman died of an asbestos-related cancer which she may have contracted from dust on her father’s work overalls decades before as a child.

An inquest heard 59-year-old Julie Elizabeth Lawless, of Wrights Lane, Torquay, Devon died on New Year’s Eve 2015 from mesothelioma.

She had been diagnosed with the cancer ‘ linked to exposure to asbestos ‘ in September last year.

Torbay and South Devon coroner Mr Arrow said: “On the balance of probabilities Julie has been exposed to asbestos during her lifetime.

“I am satisfied she’s been exposed to asbestos dust in her family, in so far as her father’s dust on his overalls, or may have been exposed to dust at work. She died from mesothelioma.

“On the balance of probabilities she contracted it as a result of exposure to asbestos dust during her lifetime.”

The inquest heard from Mrs Lawless’ sister Elaine Cowell.

She said their father had been an engineer for BT and his job involved cutting cables lagged with asbestos.

“He would come home in uniform and flakes used to come off,” she said.



November 18, 2016Permalink

Bolton night club owner fined over asbestos exposure

A Bolton night club owner has been sentenced after admitting a failure to carry out a survey for asbestos before starting on the refurbishment of a local night club.

Manchester Magistrates’ court heard how UK Night Life Limited and its sole director, Charles John McGrath, undertook the management of a refurbishment project between 1 August and 12 August 2015 on The Level nightclub, Mawdsley Street, Bolton without an experienced contractor in place to manage the site. Up to 20 workers were potentially exposed to deadly asbestos fibres in order for the club to open in time for Fresher’s week and an influx of students to the club.

The site first came to the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) attention in August 2015 following a complaint from Bolton Council regarding unsafe construction works throughout the site.

The HSE inspector served a total of three Prohibition Notices and two Improvement Notices, along with a Notification of Contravention for a foreseeable risk of asbestos exposure, a lack of competent site manager, risks of falls from height, unsuitable welfare facilities and inadequate fire safety precautions.

Charles McGrath, sole director of UK Night Life Limited, of Mawdsley Street, Bolton, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and Regulations 5(a) and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, and was fined £5,720.00 with costs of £3,535.86.

In his summing up, District Judge Sanders remarked that Mr McGrath had chosen to rush through the works with unqualified and inexperienced people running the site on a day-to-day basis. He went on to say that it was clear that these offences amounted to a ‘degree of cost cutting at the expense of safety’.

HSE inspector Matt Greenly said after the case: “Mr McGrath totally failed in his duty to protect his workers, subcontractors and anyone else accessing this site from a foreseeable risk of serious harm. Asbestos related diseases are currently untreatable and claim the lives of an estimated 5,000 people per year in the UK.

“The requirement to have a suitable asbestos survey is clear and well known throughout the construction industry. Only by knowing if asbestos is present in any building before works commence can a contractor ensure that people working on their site are not exposed to these deadly fibres.

“The cost of an asbestos survey is minimal compared to the legacy facing anyone who worked on this site. They now have to live with the realisation that due to the lack of care taken by Mr McGrath they may face a life shortening disease at some point over the next 30 or more years, from an exposure which was totally preventable. This case sends a clear message to any company that it does not pay to ignore risks on site, especially to simply keep to a self-imposed tight schedule.”

November 8, 2016Permalink

Man fined after exposing employees to asbestos

An employee exposed his workers to asbestos fibres during the refurbishment of a social club in Ashington, Northumberland.

Mid and South East Northumberland Magistrates’ Court heard how on purchasing the club, Timour Haghkar failed to have an asbestos survey carried out and as a result was unware of the presence of Asbestos Insulating Board (AIB) within the Excelsior Social Club building.

The refurbishment works disturbed the AIB and no suitable controls were in place to protect the workers from the fibres produced or restrict the spread of those fibres.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Timour Haghkar removed the AIB in an uncontrolled manner and without using a licenced asbestos removal contractor.

Timour Haghkar, of Woodhorn Road, Ashington, Northumberland was fined £560 after being found guilty of breaching Regulations 5 and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. The company was also ordered to pay £795 costs. In addition to the fines imposed by the court Timour Haghkar has also been charged £8,391.29 in fees for the cost of the HSE investigation as well as having to pay out £36,000 for the subsequent safe removal of the asbestos waste by a licenced asbestos removal contractor.

March 8, 2016Permalink

Company fined for safety failings when dealing with asbestos at a school

An Oxford based company has been fined after disturbing asbestos insulation board (AIB) at a school.

Northampton Magistrates’ Court heard how Amey Communities Limited (ACL) were contracted to carry out roof refurbishment at Lings Primary School, Hayeswood Road, Northampton. During the course of this refurbishment workers from ACL disturbed AIB in a small plant room.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive into the incident which occurred on 6 November 2014 found failings in ACL’s project management arrangements. They failed to monitor and identify asbestos materials during this specific roof refurbishment work at the school and ensure key personnel had suitable asbestos awareness training.

Amey Community Limited, of Edmund Halley Road, Oxford, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, and was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,737.

HSE inspector Sam Russell said after the hearing: “The serious health risks of asbestos which is a class one carcinogen are well-known and publicised. Any maintenance or construction work undertaken in buildings built before 2000 must consider and manage the risk of possible asbestos containing materials. It is important this material is considered at every stage of a construction project and failure to do so places workers, buildings occupants and the public at risk to possible exposure to asbestos fibres.”

March 8, 2016Permalink

Firms fined after asbestos failings

05th January 2016

A food company and their contractor have been fined after asbestos was disturbed during building work and only identified by chance when an asbestos removal contractor attended site.

Stafford Crown Court heard no asbestos survey had been carried out by Mizkan Euro Ltd or D H Welton & Co Ltd and either company could have commissioned a refurbishment/demolition before the work commenced.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found Mizkan Euro Ltd were undertaking a project to remove tanks from a factory which required the demolition of an external wall. They failed to provide an asbestos survey to enable their contractor DH Welton to quote and plan appropriately for the work to be undertaken. However, it also found DH Welton could have commissioned a survey when they discovered that Mizkan only had access to a management survey for the building.

When the wall was demolished asbestos insulation board at the top of the wall was unknowingly broken up. A skip of demolition debris was found to contain asbestos insulation board, which had been identified by an asbestos contractor who had been called to site. For the work to be undertaken correctly, a licensed asbestos removal contractor should have been appointed to remove the asbestos under controlled conditions prior to the wall being demolished.

Mizkan Euro Ltd of Chiswick Park, Chiswick High Road, Chiswick, London pleaded guilty to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act after failing to plan and manage the work carried out under their control without ensuring that risks to health and safety are prevented. It was fined £60,000 for each charge (£120k) and ordered to pay costs of £13,589.

D H Welton & Co Ltd of Corn Street, Failsworth, Manchester admitted breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act and regulation 5(1)(a) Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 after failing to carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment as to whether asbestos was present or liable to be present during the removal of a wall It was fined £15,000 for each charge (£45k) plus costs of £4,529. 

February 2, 2016Permalink

Charitable trust and contractor fined for asbestos safety failings

A charitable trust and a contractor it employed has been fined for safety failings after disturbing asbestos and continuing to work in a building.

The Williamson Trust is responsible for the running of a school academy where Mark Tucker was contracted to refurbish a building block.

Chatham Magistrates’ Court heard that in July 2012, knowing the trust had an asbestos register identifying where asbestos was located within the school, work was carried out by Mark Tucker to refurbish a building block without consulting the register.

However, the trust had failed to complete a refurbishment and demolition survey, and had failed to ensure that the contractors had the asbestos information they needed to carry out the work safely.

The Williamson Trust of Maidstone Road, Rochester, Kent pleaded guilty to Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and was fined £18,000 and ordered to pay costs of £17,000.

Mark Tucker of Maidstone Road, Chatham, Kent pleaded guilty to Regulation 13(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, and was fined £9000 and ordered to pay costs of £8000.

February 2, 2016Permalink

Company fined after failure to implement asbestos management plan

An engineering firm has been fined after asbestos was found at their factory and they failed to document or manage the risks to employees or visitors to the site.

Darlington Magistrates’ Court heard how Blue Diamond Engineering Limited of County Durham, was notified of the presence of asbestos materials during a survey carried out at the company’s factory premises in 2006.

Work undertaken at the premises had the potential to disturb the hazardous asbestos materials, and until HSE’s intervention, the company had not documented or implemented an Asbestos Management Plan to adequately control the risk of exposure.

Blue Diamond Engineering Limited, of Shildon Industrial Estate, Shildon, was fined a total of £11,000, with costs of £1,610 after pleading guilty to offences under Regulation 4(8)(b) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

Speaking after the hearing Health and Safety Executive Inspector Michael Kingston said: “Asbestos kills around 5,000 workers each year, this is more than the number killed on UK roads. Asbestos can be present within any premises built or refurbished before the year 2000. This prosecution should serve as a warning to companies to properly manage the risks of asbestos exposure. Whenever asbestos containing materials are found to be present, companies have a legal duty to document and implement an Asbestos Management Plan which includes measures to adequately control the risk of exposure to asbestos fibres.”

December 1, 2015Permalink

Cinema director fined for asbestos management failings

A St Albans cinema director has been fined after he put workers and members of the public at risk of exposure to asbestos.

James Hannaway, 68, from Berkhampstead, the sole director of The Alpha Cinema (St Albans) Limited was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after he allowed refurbishment of the derelict multiscreen cinema to begin in 2010 without proper checks for asbestos.

Stevenage Magistrates’ Court heard that in April 2012, James Hannaway went on to engage around 30 members of the public to remove the debris from the demolition work over the course of two days.

An asbestos survey was eventually carried out in early October 2012, which identified the presence of asbestos in the building (after the debris removal), and recommended that no-one entered the affected areas. Despite this, the court was told Hannaway was seen taking people into the building to view the ongoing work.

James Hannaway of Waterside, Berkhampstead, Hertfordshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and to breaching Regulation 5 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and Regulation 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. He was fined £11,660 and ordered to pay £7,000 in costs.

HSE Inspector Paul Hoskins stated: “HSE takes these potential disturbances very seriously. This is another example of a company failing to carry out the required asbestos checks before refurbishment work starts. A survey is required to ensure asbestos is identified and removed to prevent inadvertent disturbance.”

Asbestos had been previously identified in a survey of the building carried out before it was purchased. However, it is not known whether or not asbestos materials were actually disturbed during the refurbishment.

If asbestos disturbance did occur, it is likely that some workers and members of the public would have been exposed to asbestos fibres. This exposure, would give rise to an increased risk of developing asbestos related disease in the future.

Fortunately however, the increased risk would be low due to the short duration of the work.

Asbestos exposure incidents understandably cause anxiety about the possible long-term health effects. Although in this case it is not certain that asbestos has been disturbed, individuals involved may still wish to consult their GP.

December 1, 2015Permalink