Brian Hockin disturbed asbestos insulation board while removing an old warm air heating system at a residential property in Devon.
The 58-year-old continued to remove the material, despite the tenants of the property raising concerns that he had disturbed asbestos.
Barnstaple Magistrates’ Court heard how the tenants of the property on Williams Close, Wrafton, had contacted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) about what happened.
A subsequent investigation found Mr Hockin had bagged and removed the material without making any checks prior to beginning the work. The material was stored at his yard.
He also used no safety measures to prevent the spread of asbestos, while he wore no protective clothing or protective breathing apparatus when he was removing the asbestos.
Asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma, cause more than 5,000 deaths every year.
Mr Hockin of Bickington, near Barnstaple, pleaded guilty of breaching Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was fined £450 and ordered to pay £921.40 in costs.
Serious health effects
Speaking after the trial, HSE Inspector Simon Jones 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.
He added that given his 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, yet he still failed to make checks before working around the material.
Tradesmen should always be aware that asbestos can be found in any industrial or residential building built or refurbished before the year 2000.
They have a responsibility to check for the presence of asbestos before starting work. If they suspect that they have come across asbestos during work, they should stop work immediately, confirm what the material is and arrange for it to be dealt with by properly trained professionals.
Date Published: March 24, 2016
Author: Jonathan Brown