Asbestos Management

Unlicensed asbestos removal ends in prison

A builder has been imprisoned for working with asbestos without a licence. His negligence exposed himself and three men who were working for him to the risk of inhaling asbestos fibres. The client for the project was fined earlier this year.

The exposure occurred in September 2012 at a commercial unit in Mochdre Business Park in Colwyn Bay. Peter Rees, who traded as Light in Design, was selling the unit. The company purchasing the unit had commissioned an asbestos survey that showed the presence of a large amount of asbestos insulating board (AIB). Instead of employing a qualified and licensed asbestos contractor for the removal, Mr Rees used a general builder, Brian Roberts, who did not hold a licence and whose removal of the AIB spread asbestos dust inside the building.

After a tip off from a licensed contractor, HSE inspectors visited the unit and served prohibition notices on Mr Rees and on Carol Anne Rees on 9 October 2012 because the contamination of the building had exposed persons to risks to their health from asbestos fibres. The unit subsequently required a significant clean up by an authorised contractor.

On 12 June 2015 at Llandudno Magistrates’ Court, Mr Roberts was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison after he admitted undertaking licensable asbestos work without a licence. The magistrates had previously fined Mr Rees £8,000 and ordered him to pay costs of £7,400 on 21 January 2015 after he admitted that his failure to employ a licensed contractor had meant that his undertaking had exposed persons to risks to their health.

Following the conclusion of the cases, the HSE’s investigating inspector, Chris Wilcox said: “Anyone who owns or has control of non-domestic premises has a legal duty to manage the risk of asbestos in their buildings. When asbestos is removed, it must be done by someone who is trained and competent to do the work.” Safe removal, emphasised Mr Wilcox, “requires a high level of skill and technical knowledge and must be done by a contractor licensed by the HSE”.

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