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Developer prosecuted for asbestos failings

Date:
10 July 2013

A Nottinghamshire property developer who pleaded guilty to exposing employees to asbestos has been given an eight-month suspended prison sentence and been ordered to pay fines and costs of £100,000.

Nottingham Crown Court was told today that James Roger Carlton, also known as Roger Stephen Parry, 64, of South Leverton, near Retford, 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 1 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 9 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 17 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 13 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.

James Roger Carlton, also known as Roger Stephen Parry, of Meeting House Lane, South Leverton, pleaded 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 – 12 charges in total – at an earlier hearing.

He was sentenced today (July 10) 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."

Information and advice about working safely with asbestos can be found on the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos

Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. Section 33(1) (g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: "It is an offence for a person to to contravene any requirement or prohibition imposed by an improvement notice or a prohibition notice (including any such notice as modified on appeal)."
  3. Regulation 5(a) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 states: "An employer shall not undertake work in demolition, maintenance, or any other work which exposes or is liable to expose his employees to asbestos in respect of any premises unless either (a) he has carried out a suitable and sufficient assessment as to whether asbestos, what type of asbestos, contained in what material and in what condition is present or is liable to be present in those premises."
  4. The ten breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 are as follows: Regulation 6(1)(a) for failing to carry out an adequate risk assessment; Regulation 7(1) for failing to have a written plan of how to deal with the work; Regulation 8(1) for undertaking work with asbestos without holding the required licence; Regulation 9(1) for failing to notify HSE of the asbestos-related work; Regulation 10(1)(a), for failing to provide employees withadequate information, instruction and training in the dangers of and removal of asbestos; Regulation 11(1)(b) for failing to prevent or reduce exposure of his employees to asbestos; Regulation 16 for failing to prevent or reduce the spread of asbestos; Regulation 17, for failing to keep his premises clean; Regulation 23(1) for failing to provide adequate washing and changing facilities or storage for protective and personal clothing or respiratory equipment; and Regulation 24 for failing to ensure that asbestos was contained.

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