Contractor falsified document to show site was clear of asbestos13 September 2012
A director of an asbestos firm has been given a suspended prison sentence for removing the hazardous substance without a license and doctoring the results of an air test.
Peter Horrey, the sole director of Absolute Asbestos Ltd, was contracted to remove asbestos insulation from a boiler room at a block of flats in Camden, London.
Between 18 and 29 July last year, Horrey removed asbestos insulation, which was covering two boilers and pipework in the room. When the work was completed he contacted an independent analyst to carry out an air test to check if the room was free of asbestos fibres.
The analyst provided a certificate, which clearly showed the site had failed the test, but Horrey then provided a doctored report for residents, indicating the room had passed the test and was safe for them to re-enter.
During the test, the analyst became concerned about some debris in the room, which he believed contained asbestos. He subsequently contacted the HSE to report his concerns.
The HSE investigated the complaint and found Horrey was not licensed to remove asbestos. He had also failed to effectively clean and decontaminate the site and had left visible asbestos fibres, which were a danger to both residents and plumbers, who were due to start work in the boiler room.
HSE inspector Dominic Elliss described Horrey as showing a reckless disregard for safety. “He clearly set out to deceive these householders but, worse than that, he was apparently content to put them and the plumbers, who had been booked shortly afterwards at risk,” said the inspector.
“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.”
Horrey appeared at Southwark Crown Court on 13 September and pleaded guilty to breaching reg.5, reg.8(1), and reg. 17 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. He was given a six-month prison sentence for each offence, to run concurrently and suspended for two years. He was also given an electronic curfew between 9pm and 6am and ordered to pay £11,340 in compensation to residents to cover the cost of a licensed contractor making the site safe. He was also ordered to pay £10,160 in costs.
In mitigation, Horrey said he believed he could do the work safely, having worked for licensed asbestos contractors in the past. He entered an early guilty plea and said he had no previous convictions.
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