asbestos removal prosecutions

Company directors prosecuted for asbestos failings

Two company directors have been prosecuted and fined after a refurbishment project at a former department store repeatedly disturbed asbestos-containing material (ACMs).

The former department store in Sunderland was undergoing refurbishment when workers disturbed large quantities of ACMs.

Over several months the ACMs had been broken up leading to fibres being spread across the five floors of the building as well as outside of it. When the HSE investigated, there was 1,315m2 of ACM-contaminated waste spread across the site.

Why is asbestos exposure dangerous?

Asbestos is responsible for the premature deaths of an estimated 5,000 people each year. Exposure to asbestos can lead to mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, asbestosis and diffuse pleural thickening. It can be anywhere between 15 to 60 years for symptoms to develop after exposure.

The two directors of Teeside-based Keebar Construction Ltd, who were responsible for the works, were prosecuted and found guilty in June 2022 of breaching s.37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

They both received 14-month suspended sentences and were ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid community service. They were suspended as directors for ten years and ordered to pay costs of over £44,000 each.

Dealing with asbestos safely

Companies need to recognise the dangers of removing asbestos without appropriate safety measures in place to protect employees and the public. There are clear guidelines for what contractors and building owners should do if they come across asbestos containing materials.

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 require duty holders to manage asbestos in an appropriate manner. This can include conducting surveys, informing those involved, preventing risk of exposure and applying controls.

If you require advice on managing asbestos risks in a demolition or refurbishment project, Aegis have experienced and knowledgeable staff who can advise and assist you. Get in touch with our team today for more information.