Asbestos removal company fined and two of its employees jailed for failing to protect workers

This is the latest news headline from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following an investigation by them found irregularities in the asbestos surveys and clearance certificates, with some of them found to be fraudulent.

So what happened?

The HSE’s prosecution gives minimal details of the actual breach but it seems that Ensure Asbestos Management Ltd had been appointed to carry out a major refurbishment of a former Plymouth Department Store. The company had been contracted to carry out an asbestos survey, remove all identified asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) from the building and then carry out the initial strip-out of the building before it was refurbished. However, the company was found to have deliberately cut corners in managing the danger of asbestos exposure putting workers at risk.

It appears that the Ensure was carrying out the removal works on behalf of the client and were found to be falsifying documentation such as clearance certification which in itself is indicative that whatever work they were doing would have fallen within the confines of licensed work (otherwise there would not be a clearance certificate necessarily provided).

It appears Ensure did not (and does not) hold a current valid asbestos removal license from the HSE although they did hold one for a year in Jan 2016- Jan 2017, which is interesting given that the offence detailed above occurred in Feb 2017.

The fact that the prosecution includes the statement that there were ‘irregularities in the surveys’ suggests that the same organisation who were removing the asbestos were also the ones who initially located it which is generally not good practice.

Fines & Prosecution

Ensure Asbestos Management Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 was fined £100,000. The Director of Ensure Asbestos Management pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He has been sentenced to 10 months in prison and has been disqualified from being a director for five years.

The Contracts Manager at Ensure Asbestos Management pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1), 3(1) and 33(1)(m) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and has been sentenced to 15 months in prison and disqualified from being a director for 10 years.

Matt, our asbestos specialist says….

‘We would always advise our clients to ensure separation between survey and removal contractors and we strongly advocate that our clients appoint their own analytical provision to ensure that they have an awareness of what is happening on their site during asbestos remediation works.

The problem is, as it has always been, that some clients place huge faith in their appointed contractors to the point that their own internal understanding falls by the wayside.  Whilst we would say that the majority of contractors who are appointed, do strive for high standards of work there are always those who seek to profit from a lack of understanding’.

For further information regarding our training courses including our ‘exclusive’ BOHS endorsed training relating to asbestos removal projects, please contact us.