Two Middlesex firms have been fined a total of £65,000 and ordered to pay a total of more than £50,000 in legal costs, after an unlicensed asbestos contractor put workers and members of the public at “serious risk” by exposing them to high levels of the toxic material.
The contractor, Enfield-based A & T Roofing and client Noble Gift Packaging, also of Enfield, were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive after the contractor carried out the specialist work at a warehouse in Brimsdown in November 2005.
The HSE said A & T Roofing was contracted to remove the roof from a building on Lockfield Avenue. The roof was lined with 3,000 sq m of asbestos insulating board that contained Amosite – brown asbestos fibres which require removal in highly-controlled conditions by licensed asbestos contractors.
A & T Roofing employees spent 12 weeks removing and smashing the boards before sweeping the dust and debris into bags. Southwark Crown Court heard the workers were not provided with effective protection, even after the company found out two weeks into the work that the material being cleared contained Amosite.
HSE inspector Sarah Snelling said: “A & T Roofing’s cavalier attitude towards the removal of the asbestos has put the future health of their employees, their employees’ families and members of the public in general at serious risk. The exposure suffered by the men working on this project is the worst our specialist inspector has seen in over 15 years of dealing with asbestos cases.”
She described the actions of the contractor as “unpardonable”.
The court fined it £25,000, as well as ordering the company – which pleaded guilty to three safety breaches – to pay costs of a further £33,844.
Noble Gift Packaging, which the HSE argued should have ordered a full asbestos survey for the work, was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £19,223 in costs. It pleaded guilty to one breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act.