The director of a Bromley firm has given a suspended jail sentence after removing asbestos without a licence and deceiving the householders by providing a doctored air test saying the room was safe to re-enter.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the circumstances of the incident and brought the prosecution against Mr Peter Horrey under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.
Southwark Crown Court was told today (13 Sept) that Absolute Asbestos Ltd was hired to take out all the asbestos insulation from the boiler room of a home in Camden. Mr Horrey, the sole director of the firm, did the work over eleven days in July last year.
As well as being unlicensed to remove asbestos, Mr Horrey failed to effectively clean and decontaminate the area. He left visible fibres that were a danger to the householders and to the plumbers, who were due to start work in the boiler room.
After he was finished, an analyst who went to take an air test provided him with a certificate clearly showing the site had failed. However, Mr Horrey provided a doctored report to the owners indicating it had passed the test and was safe for them to re-enter, which they did.
Mr Horrey, of Jackson Road, Bromley, Kent, had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to three breaches of the asbestos regulations between 18 and 29 July 2011 at Greencroft Gardens, NW6. He was given six months’ prison sentence on each charge, to run concurrently and suspended for two years; 300 hours’ unpaid community service; given an electronic curfew between 9pm and 6am for three months; ordered to pay £11,340 to the affected Residents’ Association in Camden and ordered to pay £10,160 costs.
After sentencing HSE Inspector Dominic Elliss, who investigated the incident, said he was appalled by Mr Horrey’s reckless disregard for safety in the full knowledge of the dangers caused by exposure to asbestos.
“He operated outside the safeguards provided by a licensing regime, failed to clean and decontaminate the work area and then lied to the residents of the property by providing an altered air safety test done by an analyst and informing them it was clear to re-enter.
“He clearly set out to deceive these householders but, worse than that, he was apparently content to put them and the plumbers who had been booked shortly afterwards at risk.
“Asbestos is not an historical threat. It is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK and the dangers are well-known in the construction and property industries. That is why there is a well-established licensing system with companies who are fully trained and experienced in dealing properly with asbestos of all types.”
Lighthouse Comments: Can you believe the case above? As a Company we teach many construction workers across the country and one staggering re-occurring fact is the little amount of knowledge that anyone has on the topic of asbestos. The substance is fibrous material that was used during construction between the 60’s and 90’s and was only fully banned in 1999. Asbestos can still be found in many buildings and will be there for many years to come. The sad fact that the gentleman above willingly deceived innocent people, does highlight that many people still take asbestos and the effects of asbestos for granted.
Asbestos kills over 4000 people in the UK a year, and the trend is set to rise. Just because you’re not in the construction industry does not mean you are not affected. Get the right advice so your conscience can remain clear.