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Tradesman’s negligence leads to prosecution and asbestos warning

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A gas engineer has been prosecuted after he removed potentially dangerous asbestos containing materials during a gas boiler replacement, putting himself and others at risk of exposure to asbestos fibres.

Brian Hockin, 58, was removing an old warm air heating system at a residential property on Williams Close, Wrafton when he disturbed the asbestos insulation board (AIB) that surrounded the boiler, Barnstaple Magistrates’ court heard.

The tenants of the property raised their concerns with the tradesman that he had disturbed asbestos but he continued to remove the material, bagging it and later storing it at his yard. The tenants were so concerned that they contacted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which subsequently prosecuted Hockin.

During the hearing, the court heard that he used no safety measures to prevent the spread of asbestos and that he did not wear protective clothing or protective breathing apparatus during the work.

Hockin pleaded guilty of breaching Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £450 and ordered to pay £921.40 in costs.

HSE Inspector Simon Jones, speaking after the trial, said: “Brian Hockin’s negligence could result in serious health effects to both him and anyone else who may have come into contact with the asbestos material that he disturbed.

“Given Mr Hockin’s vast experience as a gas engineer he should have realised that there is a very good chance that a 30-year-old gas boiler could be insulated with asbestos insulation board but he made no checks before working around the material.”

Mr Jones added that tradesmen needed to be aware that any building, domestic or commercial, built before 2000 may contain asbestos.

“Tradesmen should make enquiries as the presence of asbestos before starting work and if they suspect that they have come across asbestos during work they should stop work immediately and confirm what the material is and arrange for it to be dealt with by properly trained asbestos removers in a safe manner,” he said.

The removal of AIB is strictly regulated and should only be undertaken by licensed asbestos contractors, who have fully trained staff and the equipment needed to prevent people being exposed to the fibres that can cause asbestosis and mesothelioma.

BLS Asbestos is a licensed asbestos removal and disposal contractor that carries out licensed, notifiable and non-licensed work across the UK, and has experience of working on everything from domestic properties and offices to industrial complexes and demolition sites.

For more information about our services or to request a quote, please call 01484 400558 or contact us via the website.




Published: 24th March 2016