Hertfordshire contractor given suspended sentence for asbestos failings
A Hertfordshire-based contractor has been handed a four-month suspended prison sentence for a series of safety failings, including disturbing asbestos, at two separate sites.
Scott Ian Richardson was found guilty of four serious safety breaches following an extensive investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
They began looking into his activities after receiving a complaint from a member of the public in March 2014 stating that concerning activities were taking place on the former Chesham Community Hospital site in Buckinghamshire.
When HSE inspectors arrived they found numerous failings, including the presence of asbestos containing materials among the building debris. Other issues included demolition arrangements not recorded in writing, unsafe work at height and use of construction machinery, poor site security and a lack of welfare facilities.
Richardson’s client, Chesham Care Ltd, was subsequently prosecuted for failings under the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM) and fined a total of £30,000.
Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court heard attempts were made by the HSE to contact the contractor without avail. However, in June 2015 an HSE inspector was alerted to unsafe working practices at a site in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.
Upon attending, the HSE inspector found the same contractor in control of workers unsafely dismantling parts of a building to recover recyclables, such as metal. No risk assessment had been done regarding respiratory exposure to asbestos containing materials.
The client told HSE the contractor was working without their knowledge on the site and had alerted the police.
As well as immediate enforcement action being taken on site to control risks, a private investigator was subsequently used to track down the contractor, who had failed to respond to HSE.
Work with asbestos is strictly regulated and removal 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. Richardson, however, did not hire a specialist for the work.
Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court heard Richardson t/a Aztec Demolition was acting as the contractor in control for both projects. After a trial, Richardson was found guilty of two breaches of the CDM Regulations 2007, one breach of The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and one breach of The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was sentenced to a four-month suspended custodial sentence and a 200 hours community service order. He was also ordered to pay costs of £1,200.
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