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Man jailed for supplying asbestos roof panels

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A company director has been jailed for a year after his business illegally supplied asbestos cement roof panels, which were a major contributory factor to the death of a construction worker.

Robert Marsh, 64, of RM Developments (2005) Ltd of Newport, Shropshire was sentenced to 12 months in prison after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and a contravention of The Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) Regulations 2008.

The prosecution followed the death of steel erector Tony Podmore after he fell through the roof of a barn he was building for a farming partnership in Frankley, Worcestershire in June 2011.

RM Developments (2005) Ltd was paid £4,000 to supply high-quality roofing materials for the barn, but Mr Marsh instead provided second-hand roof panels that had cost him nothing.

The roof panels, which contained white asbestos, were fragile and during the final phase of the construction project, Mr Podmore went through them, fell more than six metres on to a concrete floor and suffered fatal injuries.

Worcester Crown Court heard that after the accident, Marsh attempted to persuade witnesses to hide the asbestos sheets and tried to convince Mr Podmore’s family not to report the incident to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

However, those efforts were unsuccessful and an HSE investigation resulted in prosecution and a prison sentence.

Speaking after the hearing concluded on June 4th 2014, HSE inspector Luke Messenger said: “Asbestos fibres are a well-known and widely-publicised health risk and can lead to fatal illnesses. The supply of materials containing asbestos has been illegal for many years.

“Marsh demonstrated a complete disregard for the law for his financial gain. In this case, the weak second-hand panels he supplied were a significant contributing factor to the death of Mr Podmore.”

He added that he welcomed the judge’s decision to impose a custodial sentence, which was a “reflection of the seriousness of the offence”.

Published: 11th June 2014