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Contractor fined for unsafe asbestos removal in Newcastle

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The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has issued a reminder about the importance of using licensed asbestos removal contractors, after an unlicensed contractor in Newcastle was fined for a series of safety failings.

Joe Simpson, of Dun n Dusted in Seaham, County Durham, was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay £1,383 in costs after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

The charges stemmed from a job he carried out at a home in Newcastle in April 2013, during which he removed asbestos insulating board from a garage, despite not having the required licence for that type of work.

Mr Simpson told the homeowner he was licensed and proceeded to pull the asbestos out of the ceiling using a hammer and chisel, before two colleagues helped him to bag up the debris and load it into his van.

A concerned neighbour reported the matter to the HSE, which immediately issued a prohibition notice to halt the work and launched an investigation.

Its inspectors found that in addition to being unlicensed, Mr Simpson had put his colleagues and local residents at risk of exposure to asbestos fibres by failing to take the proper safety measures.

He had not prepared a plan of work, used the correct protective clothing and equipment, taken steps to prevent the spread of fibres or carried out air sampling. To make matters worse, attempts to clean up amounted to nothing more than a brush and domestic vacuum cleaner being used to deal with the asbestos debris.

At Newcastle Magistrates’ Court on November 27th 2014, Mr Simpson was told he was fortunate to escape a custodial sentence for what was a serious offence.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Sal Brecken said: “Work with asbestos requires a high degree of regulatory control to ensure it is carried out safely. Mr Simpson decided to ignore the fact an asbestos licence was required to undertake this work and his actions not only put him at risk, but also the householder and those working alongside him.

“Full compliance with asbestos legislation, in particular licensing requirements, is absolutely essential to protect both workers and members of the public from exposure to this deadly substance.”

To find out more about asbestos removal by a licensed contractor or to get a quote for removal work, please contact BLS Asbestos on 01484 400558 or via the website.

Published: 3rd December 2014