Nottingham Crown Court was told yesterday (Thursday) that James Roger Carlton, also known as Roger Stephen Parry, 64, of Metting House Lane, South Leverton, disregarded the presence of asbestos insulation board at the site of the former King Edward VI School on London Road, Retford.
He knew the potentially dangerous material formed part of the pre-fabricated buildings on the site, but ignored advice on its safe removal.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) visited the school, which was being converted into a retirement complex, on 1st March 2012 during a construction safety initiative.
An inspector identified the type of building which is known to contain asbestos, and gave Mr Carlton advice on what he needed to do to comply with the relevant legislation surrounding its removal.
Eight days later, on 9th March, a complaint was received by HSE from a member of the public advising that the asbestos was not being removed properly. Mr Carlton, trading as Heathcliff Developments, was told to have surveys carried out and to arrange for the licensed removal of the material.
However, when inspectors re-visited the site on 17th May they found building rubble containing asbestos that had not been properly disposed off in this way. A prohibition notice was immediately served to stop all work with, or liable to disturb, the material asbestos and a direction to ‘leave undisturbed’ was imposed on the piles of contaminated rubble.
HSE inspectors made a third unannounced visit on 13th October and found workers in breach of the prohibition notice.
They found two workers putting asbestos insulation board into a lockable skip and ‘dry sweeping’ the dust, which resulted in large clouds of contaminated dust billowing across the site.
Work was again stopped until arrangements were made for safe and proper removal of asbestos materials.
The court heard that although employees had been wearing disposable overalls and face masks, no other controls were in place so not enough was done to protect them from the risk of exposure.
Dust would have contaminated their clothes and there was no water on site to enable decontamination.
The asbestos containing material should have been dampened down and double-bagged in special bags, before being removed by a licensed contractor. High efficiency vacuum cleaners should then have been used to remove smaller pieces of asbestos and dust rather than a broom.
Carltonpleaded guilty to single breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006, and 10 breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 at an earlier hearing.
He was sentenced to eight months is prison, suspended for two years, for the breach of the prohibition notice. He was also fined £55,000 and ordered to pay a further £45,000 in costs.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Kevin Wilson said: “Mr Carlton showed a willful disregard for the health and safety of his employees and others. Our investigation uncovered a catalogue of serious errors, safety failings and a general ignorance of the laws around the safe and correct removal of asbestos.”
“This was an appalling case of failing to properly plan, manage and resource this project which led to workers being exposed to risks to their health from asbestos.”
“Workers who have been exposed to asbestos could have posed a health risk to others in the long term, even their families and loved ones, by taking home their contaminated clothing.”
“Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK. Building owners and contractors have a duty to ensure they protect their workers from risk of exposure. Mr Carlton failed in that duty by choosing to ignore the dangers of this hidden killer.”
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