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Company director fined £18k for ignoring asbestos laws

The head of a West Midlands sheet metal laser-cutting firm has been hit with almost £18,000 in fines and costs for the unlicensed removal of asbestos insulation boards at his company premises.

Secal Laser managing director Roger Lee Lavender pleaded guilty at Shrewsbury Crown Court to failing to ensure that work was undertaken by a licensed company and failure to ensure the safety of his employees.

The court heard that although he was aware of the presence of asbestos – with surveys having been carried out in 2004 and 2007 – Mr Lavender instructed two of his employees to remove the boards from within his Telford factory.

The Health and Safety Executive said the work would have cost in the region of £40,000 if it had been done in accordance with the regulations and would have caused severe disruption to the business.

Inspector Guy Dale said: “The [2004] asbestos survey made it clear that any removal of the material was dangerous and must be carried out by licensed specialists. However, Mr Lavender allowed his employees to be exposed to the serious risk of inhaling a class one carcinogen that can cause mesothelioma and lung cancer.”

Mr Lavender was fined £6,666 and ordered to pay legal costs of £11,039.