The Crown Court was told today that the developer disregarded the presence of asbestos insulation board at the site of a former School.
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 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, a complaint was made to the HSE by a member of the public advising that the asbestos was not being removed properly. The developer was told to have surveys carried out and to arrange for the licensed removal of the material.
However, when inspectors re-visited the site they found building rubble containing asbestos that had not been properly disposed of. 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 and 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.
The developer pleaded guilty to 12 charges in total including 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.
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.