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Unsafe asbestos removal in Oldham leads to prison sentence

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Carrying out an illegal asbestos removal in Oldham has resulted in a demolition contractor being jailed for 24 weeks.

David William Briggs, trading as Briggs Demolition, was sentenced at Manchester Magistrates’ Court in relation to offences committed during work to demolish the former Oakbank Training Centre in Chadderton, near Oldham.

The Court heard that after being awarded the contract for the job, Briggs informed the site’s owners that they needed to have an asbestos demolition survey completed before work commenced and even recommended a surveyor.

That advice was followed and the survey identified 230 square metres of asbestos containing materials throughout the buildings. However, Briggs chose to ignore the findings and started the demolition without first calling in a licensed asbestos contractor to remove the materials.

Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) first visited the site in 2015, after approximately half of the buildings had been demolished or partly demolished. They asked Briggs what had been done about the asbestos and he denied there was any on site.

A Prohibition Notice was issued preventing any further work at the site while the HSE investigated the extent of the asbestos disturbance. Scientists from the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) subsequently confirmed the findings of the original survey and identified hazardous asbestos in the remaining buildings.

It was also established that three workers were potentially exposed to deadly asbestos fibres and that members of the public were put at risk due to the uncontrolled method of demolition.

Briggs, of Wellington Street, Bury, was charged with breaching Section 2(1) & Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulations 8 (1) and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. He pleaded guilty to all offences at Manchester Magistrates’ Court and was sentenced to 24 weeks imprisonment.

Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Matt Greenly said that by ignoring the asbestos survey, Briggs was guilty of putting his workers at a foreseeable risk of serious harm in the pursuit of financial gain.

“The costs of removing this asbestos safely were saved by Mr Briggs which allowed him to undercut his competitors. This act of putting profit before safety is wholly unacceptable,” said Mr Greenly.

“Anyone who worked on this site at this time, due to the lack of care taken by Mr Briggs, could possibly face a life-shortening disease at some point over the next 30 years from an exposure which was totally preventable.

“This case sends a clear message to any individual or company that it does not pay to ignore known risks on site, especially to increase profits at the expense of people’s lives.”

BLS Asbestos is a well-established Yorkshire-based asbestos removal contractor with a highly-trained workforce, an HSE licence to work with asbestos insulation and asbestos insulation board for the purpose of removal and an Environment Agency licence to transport hazardous waste.

Contact BLS Asbestos on 01484 400558 or via the website to request a quote for any asbestos-related work, from management surveys to large-scale removal jobs.

Published: 17th February 2017