Seaham contractor fined for breaching asbestos removal rules

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A CONTRACTOR illegally removed asbestos from a garage, putting himself, other workers and the householder at risk of exposure a court heard.

John Simpson, trading as Dun N Dusted and offering waste removal services, was paid £900 by a householder to remove asbestos from a garage under his house in Jesmond, Newcastle.

He had told the owner he was licensed to remove the dangerous material despite not being so.

Simpson, of Portland Avenue, Deneside, Seaham, went to the property with two other men last April.

Newcastle magistrates were told he worked alone inside the garage wearing paper overalls and a face mask, and took down the asbestos insulating board ceiling with a hammer and chisel.

The other men helped bag the asbestos debris and loaded 20 bags into Simpson’s van.

A concerned neighbour contacted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Simpson was served with a Prohibition Notice stopping him doing any similar work while an investigation was carried out.

Magistrates heard Simpson was neither qualified nor licensed to remove asbestos. The court was told Simpson also failed to take suitable measures to prevent the spread of potentially deadly asbestos fibres. The debris had just been cleared up using a brush and a vacuum cleaner before being bagged and loaded into the van.

The court was told the nature of the work meant the HSE should have been told and Simpson should have carried out a risk assessment and identified the type of asbestos. He had not prepared a written plan of work and the equipment and clothing he used did not offer adequate protection from exposure.

No air sampling had been carried out and Simpson did not produce a certificate for reoccupation once the work was complete.

The 41-year-old was fined a total of £1,500 and ordered to pay £1,383 in costs after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

Speaking after the case HSE inspector Sal Brecken said: “Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK, with some 4,500 deaths each year due to asbestos-related diseases, as well as many serious illnesses.

“For this reason, work with asbestos requires a high degree of regulatory control to ensure it is carried out safely. Mr Simpson decided to ignore the fact an asbestos licence was required to undertake this work and his actions not only put him at risk, but also the householder and those working alongside him.

“Full compliance with asbestos legislation, in particular licensing requirements, is absolutely essential. HSE will continue to vigorously enforce the law to protect both workers and members of the public from exposure to this deadly substance.”

She added: “When sentencing Mr Simpson, the magistrates said they considered this breach very serious and a custodial sentence was strongly considered but due to it being his first health and safety offence they decided to deal with it by way of a fine.”