Builder fined after ignoring asbestos risks

A self-employed builder has been fined for demolishing a building without first carrying out an asbestos survey.

Stuart Pearson, of Badger Way, Verwood, Dorset, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) at Guildford Magistrates' Court for breaching the Control of Asbestos Regulations between 20 April and 1 May 2011.

The court was told he had been employed to carry out the demolition of a house in Woking, Surrey, before groundworks were laid for a new property.
Pearson was given a recent Asbestos Management Survey of one area of the house that had been carried out for the previous owner. The survey had been commissioned after a plumber had refused to repair the boiler due to the presence of asbestos.

The survey highlighted that there were 12 metres of asbestos in poor condition with two of three areas classified as 'high risk'. It went on to state: 'This material is in very poor condition and debris now exists around the boiler and the floor within the rest of the room. This room must not be accessed until a full environmental clean and removal of all asbestos-containing materials have been carried out by a licensed asbestos contractor.'

The report added that the removal had to be undertaken in controlled conditions with the use of 'enclosures, airlocks, negative pressure units and decontamination units.'

However, Pearson went ahead and demolished the property without having a pre-demolition survey carried out on the entire property to ensure that all asbestos was identified and removed.

HSE began an investigation after a scientific officer from Woking Borough Council visited the site and raised concerns about possible asbestos contamination.

He pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 5 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. He was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,500.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Russell Beckett, said:
"Before any demolition work is undertaken a survey must be carried out to identify any asbestos present and prevent exposure to anyone working on site and to those who subsequently process the waste. Any asbestos must be removed in the correct manner.

"Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK and the dangers are well known in the construction and property industries.

"Asbestos is not an historical threat. It is current and it faces tradesmen all the time. This man has risked his own health and the health of others who were on the site."

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