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Demolition boss handed suspended sentence for unsafe asbestos removal

The owner of a demolition company has been handed a suspended sentence for failing to appropriately manage the removal of asbestos during demolition works

Barry Patchett, trading as BSN Demolition, has been sentenced for failing to reduce the spread and exposure of asbestos when demolishing a large pig shed.

Lincolnshire Magistrates’ Court heard how, in July and August 2018, whilst carrying out demolition and asbestos removal works at the former pig shed on Caenby Corner in Lincolnshire, Barry Patchett, had failed to remove asbestos containing materials (ACMs) prior to commencing the work.

Consequently, the asbestos containing materials were needlessly broken up in significant quantities across the site, leading to the risk of spreading asbestos fibres.

HSE investigation

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Patchett and BSN Demolition had received the relevant training on how to remove non-licenced asbestos and had submitted a plan of work to the client which included removing the asbestos sheets manually before demolition, which he chose not to follow.

Patchett also failed to have a copy of the plan of work on the premises for workers to follow at the time of the demolition.

He pleaded guilty to contravening Regulations 7(2), 11(1) and 12 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, and was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment, suspended for one year, and ordered to pay costs of £1,000.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Stuart Whitesmith, said: “Asbestos-related disease still kills around 5,000 workers each year.  Asbestos is not just a problem of the past; it can be present today in any building or industrial process plant built or refurbished before the year 2000.”

“In this case, Mr Patchett failed to follow basic safe working practices required by the Regulations.”

Asbestos regulations

Since the start of 2018, 135 companies or individuals have been ordered to cease work activities because of non-compliance with asbestos regulations, with a further 130 being warned they must improve.

A further 31 companies or individuals have been prosecuted for breaches, with fines ranging from £1 to £200,000 and some directors being given prison sentences, according to the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health.

While these companies are being financially impacted, the human cost of asbestos exposure at work is far greater, with at least 5,000 deaths every year in Britain being linked to it.

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