Director Sent To Prison For Asbestos Breaches

Just under halfway through April 2023 industry regulatory body the Health and Safety Executive through the Manchester Magistrates Court handed down a stinging financial sanction of eighty-thousand pounds to a business specializing in the removal of the potentially dangerous substance asbestos in the wake of a person occupying the esteemed position of director neglected in his regulatory responsibilities and duties to make sure the dangerous substance was removed safely. The financial sanction seems to have been imposed in a bid to make an example of the business after the director was served with a sentence of six months imprisonment in March 2023 in connection with the same matter. 

What Happened In The Case?

The case centered around events in Stockport where the persons acting on behalf of the business were instructed by a customer to take out a section of ceiling containing the potentially dangerous substance asbestos from a residential property. The evidence collected by the HSE to build its case appeared to suggest that those persons representing the business seem to have disposed of the potentially dangerous materials at the residential premises in an unlawful manner by carelessly throwing them out, committing acts of illegal littering and making a mess of the road with the discarded rubbish containing the dangerous chemical. 

When the case came to the attention of the HSE and Trading Standards department in Stockport they seemingly felt compelled to probe into what had happened in the case. When they did so they appear to have uncovered evidence that seemed to point to numerous examples where asbestos had been removed from premises across the jurisdiction. Nothing indicated that the business had done anything to protect the members of both the workforce and had seemingly neglected its legal duties to safeguard the wider public from risks of harm from a health and safety perspective as persons essentially became open to damaging substances. An example cited in the case was where the business had carried out sub-standard work and the customer required over sixty thousand pounds of maintenance to rectify it.   
The regulatory authorities found evidence suggesting that the director appeared to be publishing fraudulent air test certificates and transfer paperwork to clients. They uncovered evidence suggesting that the business had forged paperwork related to the training of its workforce and vitally important insurance documentation.  
If the business owners thought they had ridden out the regulatory storm they would be very much living under a misconception because the business and the director had violated a notice preventing such conduct numerous times. 

What Did The Court Say?

In the Magistrates Court in Manchester, the justices reviewed the evidence and convicted both the director and business of violating the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 under Regulation 8 and Regulation 11 by not mitigating the risk of asbestos. The commercial organization was also convicted of ignoring a Notice of Prohibition. The Court imposed a financial sanction in the amount of ninety-thousand pounds. The person responsible for the day-to-day running of the business openly admitted to the allegations and was sent to prison for just under one year. 

Lessons Learned? 

Businesses specializing in the removal of dangerous substances of this kind need to be advised to:

  • comply with Notices of Prohibition
  • avoid carrying out unlawful working activities involving asbestos
  • ensure work is carried out to a high standard 
  • adhere to the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and
  • make sure fraudulent documents are not used. 

If you have experienced something similar, or have an opposing viewpoint, please kindly leave a comment on the article or contact us.  
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