A wood working company and its director have been fined after an inspection by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found a series of failings and risks associated with significant quantities of asbestos-containing materials within the premises.
The Court heard that in August 2016, during an unannounced visit to the workshop, the asbestos insulating board lining the building was found to be in very poor condition with many panels having extensive damage. Enforcement notices were served requiring the risks to be controlled and the asbestos materials to be removed by a licensed contractor.
Enquires further to the inspection identified that the company, and its director, had failed to ensure a suitable and sufficient assessment was carried out to determine whether asbestos was present, and take relevant action to ensure any risks associated with the asbestos materials were controlled. They also fabricated documents to make it appear that the asbestos materials were going to be removed by a relevant licensed contractor.
The company pleaded guilty to a charge under Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. The company was fined £25,000.
The Director pleaded guilty to a charge under Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was sentenced to six months imprisonment suspended for eighteen months and ordered to pay £25,000 costs.
Speaking after the hearing, the HSE inspector said: “The risks associated with asbestos-containing materials are well known and advice and guidance is freely available from HSE.
“Duty holders are required to manage the risks from asbestos in any non-domestic premises and ensure that a suitable and sufficient assessment is undertaken to identify asbestos-containing materials and ensure that any risks are controlled. “
“Employers should not undertake any work with asbestos materials which exposes their employees to asbestos unless the risks have been assessed and relevant control measures have been implemented. Work associated with many categories of asbestos materials including those in this case may only be undertaken by a suitably licensed asbestos removal contractor under stringent procedures.”
For separate offences prosecuted by the Fire Service, the director was sentenced to a further 12 months in prison, suspended for 18 months. He was also fined £25,000 and ordered to pay £25,000 costs.