Builders show disregard for laws related to asbestos removal work…
Two builders who were self-employed have been prosecuted for illegal asbestos removal work that exposed both the builders themselves and the tenants of the properties where they carried out their work to dangerous asbestos material.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) decided to prosecute the two men after their investigation revealed that they had removed and dismantled asbestos panels in the Handsworth area between the dates of 19 May and 25 May.
Birmingham Magistrates’ Court was told that one of the householders had been provided with a Council grant to renovate his garage. The grant approval process tested the house for asbestos and found that some was present, but the HSEs investigation found that by the time the testing procedure was completed, the two builders had already broken up the asbestos insulating boards at the property with a hammer and disposed of them.
The court heard that the two men didn’t have the necessary licenses to carry out asbestos removal work nor did they abide by their legally obligated duty to complete an asbestos survey before removing or destroying asbestos material. This failure to implement basic safety protocols put both themselves and the householders at an increased risk of exposure to toxic asbestos fibres that have potentially fatal long-term consequences.Birmingham City Council had to pay more than £6,500 to have the site cleaned up in an efficient manner.
Both builders pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. and were fined £2,000 each and ordered to pay an additional £1,200 each in prosecutions costs.
HSE Inspector Gareth Langston commented after the hearing:
“Inhaling asbestos fibres can cause mesothelioma, which is always fatal, and other life- threatening conditions. More than 4,000 people die every year from asbestos-related diseases.”
“An estimated 70% of properties contain asbestos. It is illegal to undertake any work which will disturb the fabric of the building without carrying out and obtaining the results of an asbestos survey.
“The type of work being undertaken in Handsworth should have been carried out by a builder who holds the necessary licence, in a safe manner and with the necessary control measures. Instead, the builders exposed the householders and others – including themselves – to potentially harmful airborne asbestos fibres. They also demonstrated a complete disregard for the law.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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