Managing director and builder fined after exposing workers to asbestos

Avon Freight Group Ltd (AFG) and its managing director Simon Poole, together with builder Ronald McPhee, pleaded guilty today to Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and were ordered to pay fines totaling £62, 500 and court costs of £52, 795.

Avon Freight Group Ltd (AFG) and its managing director Simon Poole, together with builder Ronald McPhee, pleaded guilty today to Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and were ordered to pay fines totaling £62, 500 and court costs of £52, 795.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted over the exposure during work to convert a unit at Hemming Road, Redditch into a new storage centre and headquarters for AFG. It was found that at least 20 people, including contract workers on the project, employees of AFG and workers for a tenant who had been using the site for storage, could have inhaled asbestos fibres during the five months.

It was heard that AFG’s architect commissioned a survey that identified asbestos insulation board in a number of partition walls, which the company planned to demolish, and correctly followed procedures by obtaining estimates for its removal from three licensed contractors. However, AFG’s Managing Director Simon Poole instructed builder Ronald MacPhee, who was carrying out minor refurbishment work on the premises, to carry out the work even though he did not have an appropriate license. Between 24 April and 16 May 2008, Mr. MacPhee and two other workers removed almost 1.5 tonnes of asbestos insulation board from the site and disposed of it as asbestos cement, which can be removed without a license.

Five months later, two other companies, who had been commissioned to demolish parts of the building and build an extension, discovered pieces of asbestos insulation board on the floor and still attached to retaining screws on the walls and alerted HSE. Analysis of the area revealed that it was contaminated with asbestos fibres and required decontamination by a specialist licensed asbestos contractor. It was concluded that the fact 3 quotes were sought from licensed asbestos removers indicated that the defendants were aware that the produced was deemed licensable.

Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.” Here at Armco we offer various services to ensure that your company operates with in the law relating to asbestos. Please navigate this website for further information regarding training and contact the office for a quote for a Survey or Asbestos Removal.

Published Feb 23, 2012
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