A suspended jail sentence has been handed to a trader in Leeds after he exposed a household as well as his workers to dangerous levels of asbestos at a home in Bramhope. Mr Raper, trading under the name of Bramley Asbestos Removals, did not have a valid legal license required to remove the dangerous material but still took on a job to remove asbestos insulating board from a garage attached to a couple’s home.
Mr Raper hired 2 workers to help complete the task but failed to take any of the necessary precautions or implement the strict controls around working with the substance. Like Mr Raper, neither of these workers held the correct license. Leeds Magistrates’ Court was told that he had taken on the work with knowledge that neither he nor his workers were legally qualified to do so.
A licensed operator would have used specialist equipment such as respiratory equipment, a protective enclosure, vacuums and negative pressure units. This provides protection from the asbestos fibres released when the materials are removed. Asbestos can lead to fatal diseases and often symptoms take years to present. The lack of the correct equipment and procedures meant that the home was exposed to asbestos debris.
The homeowner contacted Leeds City Council after becoming concerned about the state of the garage. The council identified a qualified contractor who performed a full clean of the property at added cost to the homeowner. The council then reported the matter to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Mr Raper received an eight month jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, after admitting breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Control of Asbestos Regulations.
HSE inspector Paul Yeadon said after the hearing:
“It is appalling that a trader who is fully familiar with the restrictions governing asbestos wilfully ignores them and puts a household and the workers he has hired in danger. It would appear that he has put profit ahead of the health and wellbeing of others, and in this case quite bafflingly, he put his own health at risk as well.
“We were unable to identify the two workers involved as Mr Raper could not provide their full names or contact details. We do think, however, that they were probably both exposed to asbestos fibres above the action level.
“This kind of work must be carried out by competent people with the necessary licence to do so.”