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Suspended jail term for ignoring asbestos safety

The director of a Bromley firm has given a suspended jail sentence after removing asbestos without a licence and deceiving the householders by providing a doctored air test saying the room was safe to re-enter.

Southwark Crown Court was told that the firm was hired to take out all the asbestos insulation from the boiler room of a home in Camden. The director did the work over eleven days but as well as being unlicensed to remove asbestos, he failed to effectively clean and decontaminate the area. He left visible fibres that were a danger to the householders and to the plumbers, who were due to start work in the boiler room.

After he was finished, an analyst who went to take an air test provided him with a certificate clearly showing the site had failed. However, the director provided a doctored report to the owners indicating it had passed the test and was safe for them to re-enter, which they did.

After sentencing HSE Inspector Dominic Elliss, who investigated the incident, said:

"Asbestos is not an historical threat. It is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK and the dangers are well-known in the construction and property industries. That is why there is a well-established licensing system with companies who are fully trained and experienced in dealing properly with asbestos of all types."

Around 4,000 people die every year as a result of breathing in asbestos fibres, making it the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK.

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