UK Construction Boss gets Prison Time for Asbestos Violations

A construction employer in Nottinghamshire was fined and awarded jail time after subjecting employees to asbestos exposure.

The employer apparently disregarded the presence of asbestos on a site where construction was being undertaken, despite being fully aware of the situation.

Renovation construction work was being undertaken which involved converting an old school into a retirement complex. Asbestos insulation boards were present, because in the past asbestos building materials were extremely popular for their durability and strength but when renovation is being undertaken on older buildings, the asbestos is disturbed and released into the air, to be inhaled by anyone in the area, placing them at risk of asbestos induced illnesses, most of which are fatal.

This post from PPConstructionSafety.com explains what happened:

asbestoscampaignA Nottinghamshire property developer who pleaded guilty to exposing employees to asbestos has been given an eight-month suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay fines and costs of £100,000.

Nottingham Crown Court heard (10/07) that James Roger Carlton (Heathcliff Developments T/A), aged 64, disregarded the presence of asbestos insulation board at the site of a former school in Retford. He knew asbestos material formed part of the pre-fabricated buildings but ignored advice on safe removal.

HSE visited the premises whilst being converted to a retirement complex on 1 March 2012 and advised Mr Carlton on what he needed to do to comply with legislation concerning asbestos removal. Eight days later following a complaint HSE told Mr Carlton, to arrange for surveys to be carried out and for removal by a licensed contractor.

On 17 May HSE found general building rubble containing asbestos and a Prohibition Notice was served with a direction to ‘Leave Undisturbed’ imposed on the piles of contaminated rubble.

When HSE inspectors made a third visit in October 2012 work was proceeding in breach of the Prohibition Notice. Two workers were putting asbestos insulation board into a lockable skip and ‘dry sweeping’ the dust resulting in large clouds of dust billowing across the site.

Source: http://www.ppconstructionsafety.com/newsdesk/2013/07/11/prison-sentence-and-fine-for-igoring-hse-notice/

During the course of the court case it was heard that employees were wearing disposable overalls and face masks but there were no other control measures implemented, placing workers at risk of exposure.

For example asbestos particles could have contaminated their clothes and there was no water on site to enable decontamination.

Also the asbestos containing material should have been dampened and double bagged for removal by a specialist remover. Instead an ordinary broom was used to sweep the small asbestos pieces and dust.

In Australia the issue of asbestos exposure is particularly problematic and Oz has been recorded as having the highest rate of Mesothelioma in the world. Mesothelioma is a deadly asbestos induced disease which is common in workers exposed to asbestos fibres over a prolonged period of time.

Asbestos fibres can even be transferred to employee’s families through their clothes and personal items. This is a particularly problematic issue which should have been handled better by the employer. Others should learn from this lack of safety, especially contractors involved with work on older buildings.

This update endorsed by the safety training team at www.whitecardaustralia.com.au 

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