MEL Health and Safety Consultants

Two Enfield Firms Fined after Unlicensed Asbestos Removal

Future Health of Employees, Employees’ Families and Members of the Public Placed at Serious Risk

Two companies have been prosecuted after workers and members of the public were exposed to unacceptable levels of asbestos during a removal project.

The Health and Safety Executive took the companies to court, on the 06 October 2009, after an unlicensed contractor carried out the specialist work at a warehouse in Brimsdown, Enfield.

On 29 November 2005, Noble Gift Packaging Ltd contracted A & T Roofing Ltd to remove the roof from a building on Lockfield Avenue. The roof was lined with 3,000 square meters of asbestos insulating board that contained Amosite (brown asbestos fibres), which requires removal in highly controlled conditions by licensed asbestos contractors.

A & T Roofing Ltd, of 191 Bowes Road, Enfield, pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court, on 1 September 2009, to Regulation 3(1) of the Asbestos (Licensing) Regulations 1983, and Sections 2(1) and 3(1) Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. They were fined £25,000 and were ordered to pay costs of £33,844.30.

Noble Gift Packaging Ltd, of 73 Lockfield Avenue, Enfield, pleaded guilty at the City of London Magistrates’ Court, on 28 October 2008, to Section 3(1) Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. They were fined £40,000 and were ordered to pay costs of £19,223.65.

A & T Roofing Ltd employees spent 12 weeks removing and smashing the boards before sweeping the dust and debris into bags. The workers were not provided with effective protection, even after the company found out that the material being cleared contained Amosite.

Managers allowed work to continue after employees complained and a tested sample showed the presence of asbestos. Workers at the site were exposed to potentially deadly fibres. These were carried on their clothes and into their homes, vehicles, onto public transport, and may have contaminated the general public and their own families.

Following the hearing HSE Inspector Sarah Snelling said:

 “A & T Roofing Ltd’s cavalier attitude towards the removal of the asbestos has put the future health of their employees, their employees’ families and members of the public in general at serious risk. The exposure suffered by the men working on this project is the worst our specialist inspector has seen in over 15 years of dealing with asbestos cases.

“Not everyone exposed to asbestos goes on to develop life-threatening or terminal asbestos-related conditions such as lung cancer, asbestosis or mesothelioma. However, when people do develop such conditions, it is often many years after they were exposed. All the men exposed, and their families, will have this hanging over them for the rest of their lives.

“The actions of A & T Roofing Ltd in this matter were unpardonable; they were told two weeks into the project that they were working with brown asbestos but carried on for another 10 weeks.

“Noble Gift Packaging Ltd, as client for the work, should have taken the basic step of having a full asbestos survey done after they were informed in a valuation survey that the roof contained asbestos. This could have prevented this whole tragic case.

“HSE will always push for the harshest penalties in such cases.”

Notes to editors

  1. Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure; so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.
  2. 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.
  3. Regulation 3(1) of the Asbestos (Licensing) Regulations 1983 states: "an employer shall not undertake any work with asbestos insulating board unless he holds a licence granted under these Regulations relating to such work & complies with the terms & conditions of that licence."
  4. A & T Roofing is prosecuted under the former Asbestos (Licensing) Regulations 1983 that was replaced by the Control of Asbestos regulations 2006, after the offence was committed and investigated.