A Birmingham handyman has been prosecuted after releasing asbestos fibres while refurbishing a kitchen at a flat in Solihull, in irresponsible actions that could now lead to accident claims.
Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found William Rogers, a carpenter and general handyman, had removed partition
walls containing asbestos insulating board at the premises in Masons Way, Olton, on 27 January 2011.
Solihull Magistrates' Court heard Mr Rogers had wrongly assumed he was dealing with asbestos cement, which does not require specialist contractors to remove it, and went ahead with the job.
As a result, both he and the tenant, who has asked not to be named, were potentially exposed to asbestos dust which could now result in accident compensation for the latter party.
By law it should have been disposed of by an approved carrier of asbestos waste, a fact which would provide another standpoint for a successful accident compensation case.
The incident was discovered when a licensed asbestos removal contractor, who was working elsewhere in the building, spotted pieces of asbestos outside and alerted HSE. The authority offered by this witness will bring strong evidence for successful accident claims by the flat's resident.
The court heard the area and Mr Rogers' car had to be decontaminated.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE principal inspector Jo Anderson said:
"Trades people are highly likely to come across asbestos at some point in their career. They must make sure they are properly trained so that they can identify it and know what to do next and there is a wealth of guidance available on HSE's website to help them.
"If they have not checked what kind of asbestos is present and they have not been trained to work with asbestos, they must not start work.
"The tenant now has to live with the knowledge that he is at risk of developing a serious lung disease in years to come through no fault of his own.
"It is against the law for anyone to remove asbestos insulating board without a licence. Mr Rogers should never have disturbed this material, and he left a significant amount of asbestos debris in the building.
"It is fortunate that a licensed contractor alerted us to the incident on the day and as a result the contamination was dealt with promptly."
William Rogers, of Rowlands Way, Yardley, pleaded guilty today to breaching Regulation 5 and Regulation 11(1)(a) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. He was fined £600 and ordered to pay £1,799 costs.
Posted by Bryony Flack-Crane