Two directors fined for unsafe removal of asbestos

Two directors of a construction company have been fined after failing to ensure the safe removal of asbestos from a plot of land.

Between 14 and 15 November 2021, Anthony Sumner and Neil Brown, both directors of Waterbarn Limited were involved in the uncontrolled removal of asbestos from a plot of land in Grasscroft, Oldham. This included a garage belonging to a neighbouring property.  Several months after the asbestos removal, enforcement action was required to ensure that the land was cleaned of all remaining asbestos debris.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that both directors were involved in the unsafe removal of an asbestos product from the site, along with Mr Brown’s two sons, resulting in exposure and spread of asbestos.  The removal was conducted in a way which increased the risk of spread and exposure as asbestos panels were smashed up with hammers before being bagged for disposal.

At Manchester Magistrates’ Court on 6 September, company director Anthony Sumner of Stamford Road, Denton, Manchester pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.  He was fined £1,400 and ordered to pay costs of £2,418.33.

Company director Neil Brown of Amlwch, Anglesey, Gwynedd, also pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £1,400 and ordered to pay costs of £2,418.33.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Matt Greenly said: “Asbestos is responsible for thousands of deaths in the UK every year, but it only becomes dangerous when it is disturbed, and fibres are released into the air.

“There is ample free guidance available from HSE to make sure that people aren’t exposed to this dangerous material through a lack of knowledge or understanding.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise.
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at:
  3. HSE news releases are available at
  4. More guidance can be found at: HSE: Asbestos – health and safety in the workplace